Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Veterans and suicide

The CNN website today calls our attention to a very troubling reality in an article called "Study: Suicide risk double among male U.S. veterans". Here's part of what it says:

The risk of suicide among male U.S. veterans is double that of the general population, according to a study published Monday.

"We need to be more alert to the problem of suicide as a major public health issue and we need to do better screening among individuals who have served in the military, probe for their mental health risk as well as gun availability," said Dr. Mark S. Kaplan, professor of community health at Portland State University in Oregon, lead author of the study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
After adjusting for a host of potentially compounding factors, including age, time of service and health status, the study showed that those who had been in the military were 2.13 times more likely to die of suicide over time.

At biggest risk were veterans who were white, those who had gone to college and those with activity limitations, according to the study, which was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

I think it's very important for the entire American population to be aware of the relationship between military service and suicide.

And all of us (yes, and that includes the government) need to be very sensitive to the needs of our veterans for a strong, reliable support system when they come home.


  1. Anonymous2:57 PM

    What amazes me is that anyone is surprised by the results of this study. The only thing that surprises me is that the suicide risk was not even higher for those in the military.
    My father enlisted in WWII at the age of 17 and fought in the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines. Recently we found letters he received from his family while he was in the army. The letters talk about the life he left and was expected to return to. Things like weather, sowing crops, harvesting, cattle prices, and the baby his favorite mare had. In the meantime, the stories he tells of experiencing were those of repeated brushes with death and of watching those he fought with die. He was one of the few of his unit to make it back alive although he did come back wounded. There is such a disparity between the life a soldier leaves behind, the life they experience as a soldier and the life they are expected to once again return to with only minimal support and that support comes only if you are close to a VA hospital. It is no wonder the suicide risk is so high.
    Carolyn L.

  2. Anonymous10:25 PM

    I too am surprised that the rate isn't many times higher. Marilyn


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