As stunning as that headline may be, keep in mind those are only the successful (if you can call it that) attempts. The war in Iraq may be over and Afghanistan winding down, but the hell of war rages on every day for veterans across America. Many of these are soldiers from wars fought decades ago as well. The New York Times has a story on it that you can read here.
An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began
As an Air Force veteran myself, I can’t help but feel the pain these families continue to go through long after the political points have been claimed when the war ends. I served in peacetime and never had to deploy to a war theatre so I don’t have to deal with those demons. But just take a look through these statistics compiled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. You can’t help but cringe.
30,000-32,000 US deaths from suicide per year among the population overall
About 20% are Veterans
About 18 deaths from suicide per day are Veterans
About 5 deaths from suicide per day among Veterans receiving care in VHA
About 950 attempts per month among Veterans receiving care in VHA as reported by suicide prevention coordinators (Oct 1 2008 – Dec 31st,2010)
About 11% (1051/10228) of those who attempted suicide in FY2009 (and did not die as a result of this attempt) made a repeat suicide attempt with an average of 9 months of follow-up
About 7% (724/10228) of suicide attempts resulted in death. Among those who survived their first suicide attempt and reattempted suicide within 9 months of their first FY09 event, ~ 6% (60/1051) died from suicide
About 33% of recent suicides have a history of previous attempts
The repeat attempts are startling. Even after an attempt has been made and the proverbial cry for help has been issued, there is no remedy for so many. These statistics also don’t take into account spouses and other loved ones left behind that can’t deal with the suicide and then do so themselves. At the very least, the total amount of pain and suffering is immeasurable.
If you’re a veteran and need help, call 1-800-273-TALK. Press “1” for Veterans.Or go online to www.VeteransCrisisLine.net. It’s completely free. I would also encourage all to donate to one of the many worthwhile programs for suicide prevention if you can afford to do so.