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20+ Veteran Suicide Statistics People Should Read

Total Number of Veteran Suicides, 2005–2018

The number of Veteran suicide deaths per year increased from 6,056 in 2005 to 6,399 in 201745 and 6,435 in 2018. 

 

The annual number of Veteran suicide deaths has exceeded 6,300 since 2008.

 

The annual number of Veteran suicide deaths increased by 36 from 2017 to 2018, and by 379 from 2005 to 2018. 

 

The annual number of Veteran suicide deaths increased by 36 from 2017 to 2018, and by 379 from 2005 to 2018. 

 

The number of Veteran suicides per year was lowest in 2006 and highest in 2014, and the number in 2018 was lower than in six of the prior 13 years. 

 

Average Number of Veteran Suicides per Day, 2005–2018

The average number of Veteran suicides per day increased from 2005 to 2018. 

 

From 2005 through 2018, the average number of U.S. adults who died by suicide each day rose steadily. In 2005, an average of 86.6 American adults, including Veterans, died by suicide each day. There were an average of 124.4 deaths each day in 2017 and an average of 127.4 in 2018. 

 

Since 2005, the average number of Veteran suicide deaths per day has remained between 17 and 18, despite observed decreases in the size of the Veteran population. In 2018, an average of 17.6 Veterans died by suicide each day. 

 

The average of 17.6 Veteran suicide deaths per day in 2018 was higher than the 17.5 average suicide deaths per day in 2017. In 2018, the average of 17.6 Veteran suicides per day comprised 6.5 Veterans with recent VHA use and 11.1 Veterans without recent VHA use.

 

Age- and Sex-Adjusted Suicide Rate, 2005–2018

 

In 2018, the suicide rate for Veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-Veteran adults, after adjusting for age and sex; this is unchanged from 2017 but greater than 2005’s differential of 1.2.

 

Over the period 2005–2018, age- and sex-adjusted suicide rates rose faster among Veterans than among nonVeteran U.S. adults.

 

Veteran Suicide Rates by Age Group, 2005–2018

Veterans ages 18–34 had the highest suicide rate in 2018 (45.9 per 100,000). 

 

Veterans age 75 and older had the lowest suicide rate in 2018 (27.4 per 100,000). 

 

The absolute number of suicides was highest among Veterans 55–74 years old. This group accounted for 40% of all Veteran deaths by suicide in 2018. 

Veteran Suicide Rate by Gender, 2005–2018

 

Between 2005 and 2018, the women Veteran population increased by 6.5%, including a 1.5% increase from 2017–2018. 

 

In 2018, among women Veterans, the age-adjusted suicide rate was 15.9 per 100,000. Among male Veterans, it was 39.6 per 100,000. 

 

Overall, the number of suicides among women Veterans fell from 304 in 2017 to 291 in 2018. There were 186 suicides among women Veterans in 2005.

 

In both 2017 and 2018, the age-adjusted suicide rate among women Veterans was 2.1 times that of non-Veteran women. In 2005, the age-adjusted suicide rate among women Veterans was 1.8 times that of non-Veteran women.

 

In 2018, the age-adjusted suicide rate among male Veterans was 1.3 times that of non-Veteran males. 

 

From 2005 to 2018, suicide rates rose significantly faster among men than among women, both for Veteran and non-Veteran populations. 

 

Veteran Suicide Rate by Race/Ethnicity, 2005–2018

 

Among the Veteran population overall, from 2005–2018, the distribution of Veterans by group changed, with proportional increases among Veterans identified as Black or African American (from 10.2% in 2005 to 12.3% in 2018), American Indian and Alaskan Natives (from 0.7% in 2005 to 0.8% in 2018), and Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (from 1.4% in 2005 to 2.0% in 2018). There were decreases among Veterans identified as White (from 84.8% in 2005 to 81.2% in 2018).

 

From 2015 to 2018, suicide rates were highest among White Veterans and lowest among Black or African American Veterans. 

 

Among Veteran VHA users, suicide rates were highest among individuals with race categorized as White or as either American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, or Pacific Islander. 

 

 In 2018, Black, Hispanic, and White male Veterans in VHA care had similar ratios of age-adjusted suicide rates relative to those of U.S. adult men in the same demographic group.

 

The ratio of suicide rates among VHA-engaged Hispanic56 male Veterans to rates among all Hispanic male U.S. adults was lower in 2018 than in 2017. 

 

Veteran VHA Patients With Mental Health or Substance Use Disorders, Unadjusted Suicide Rates

Among Veterans with recent VHA use who died by suicide in 2018, 59.6% had a mental health or substance use disorder diagnosis in 2017 or 2018. 

 

In 2018, VHA patients with any mental health or substance use disorder diagnosis had a suicide rate of 57.2 per 100,000, compared with 58.6 per 100,000 in 2005 and 57.9 per 100,000 in 2017. 

 

The suicide rate for VHA patients diagnosed with depression decreased from 2005 to 2018, from 72.9 per 100,000 to 66.4 per 100,000. The 2018 suicide rate represented an increase from 2017’s rate, 65.1 per 100,000.

 

The suicide rate for VHA patients diagnosed with anxiety decreased from 2005 to 2018, from 83.1 per 100,000 to 67.0 per 100,000. The 2018 suicide rate was an increase from 2017’s rate, 65.6 per 100,000. 

 

Veteran VHA patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder and those diagnosed with opioid use disorder had elevated risk for suicide.

Veteran Suicide Methods

In 2018, 68.2% of Veteran suicide deaths were due to a self-inflicted firearm injury, while 48.2% of non-Veteran adult suicides resulted from a firearm injury

 

 In 2018, 69.4% of male Veteran suicide deaths and 41.9% of female Veteran suicide deaths resulted from a firearm injury.

Sources

 

Veteran Administration: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/data-sheets/2020/2020-National-Veteran-Suicide-Prevention-Annual-Report-11-2020-508.pdf

 

IAVA: https://iava.org/survey2020/IAVA-2020-Member-Survey.pdf

 

MMWR; CDC: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6181254/pdf/ss6711a1.pdf