Veteran suicide rates remain alarmingly high despite years of reform.
For U.S. Army veteran Tom Voss, it was the unseen wounds of war that gushed from his body and crippled his insides day in and day out. While more than 6,000 miles from the battlefields of Iraq and back in the beloved land he served, Voss no longer felt at home in his skin. The wincing memories of doing or witnessing horrific things that collided with his fundamental beliefs – the “moral injury” – walked like a shadow alongside him and inside him, propelling him toward suicide as a means to end the pain and suffering.
According to the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, 45,390 American adults died from suicide in 2017 – the most recent available year of data collection – including 6,139 U.S. veterans. The report stated that the number of veteran suicides has exceeded 6,000 every single year between 2008 and 2017, and in 2017, the suicide rate for veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-veteran adults.
In 2005, an average of 86.6 American adults, including veterans, died by suicide daily. In comparison, an average of 124.4 Americans died by suicide daily in 2017, indicating a sharp rise across the country.
Specific to veterans, the study found that suicides increased from 5,787 to 6,139 over those 12 years.In 2005, an average of 15.9 veterans died by suicide daily, andin 2017, an average of 16.8 Veterans died by suicide each day.