Over the last 15 years, more US troops have died from suicide than have been killed in Afghanistan. If there’s anything that’s clear about Vets who are returning from war, it’s that their experience leaves a lasting impression on their minds, often one of nightmare, terror, and anxiety. The rate of suicide among veterans is 21% higher than the rest of the country, according to a VA study published in August. That study also showed that the risk for suicide was 140% higher among female Veter- ans when compared with civilian adult females. Also, during 2001-2014, the suicide rate for younger Veterans (18-29) grew about 7 times higher than their civilian peers.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a leading indicator among veterans. In 2010, the VA officially reduced the requirements for receiving PTSD treatment and disability compensation, but many veterans still feel uncomfortable talking about PTSD, or may not know they suffer from it.
Friends and family are confused by their behavior, which can become increasingly irrational, reclusive, and difficult to understand. Most service men and women return home and never have any suicidal thoughts. However, higher rates of PTSD and major depression remain a concern since if left untreated, they can lead to a host of snowballing consequences, including suicide. We must recognize the national health crisis we face with PTSD in our returning soldiers. Unless these veterans get treated, there will be long term consequences that will affect us all.
Our Lifeline for Vets toll free line provides vet to vet services for all veterans, including those who might be on the brink of taking their own lives. Our unique vet-to-vet model lets vets talk to someone who understands their fears, depression, and despair.
Not every call the NVF Lifeline for Vets takes is a suicide crisis call, but every call is potentially a suicide prevention call. That’s because helping veterans get jobs, access their benefits, get counseling, medical care, financial assistance and housing all help put veterans on a path away from the one that ends in suicide.
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.