Most suicides by US veterans are by those over age 50 - study

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
New Study Shows U.S. Veteran Suicides Occur at a Rate of Twenty per Day


July 7 (Reuters) - Well over half of U.S. military veterans who took their own lives in 2014 were aged 50 or older, the government reported on Thursday in a study indicating that combat trauma predating the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still accounts for many veteran suicides.

SEE ALSO: Woman makes gut-wrenching find under bags of trash

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs analysis, which shows the suicide rate among veterans climbing over the past 15 years, is based on millions of records and is touted as the government's most comprehensive examination of the issue to date.

President Barack Obama has joined veterans groups in singling out as a national priority the prevention of suicide among veterans, who the study says are at a 21 percent greater risk of taking their own lives than other Americans.

The latest report said 20 former members of America's armed forces died of suicide each day on average in 2014, down slightly from a previous study that put the daily average at 22 in 2010.

Of the veterans known to have committed suicide in 2014, the latest year for which such data was available, 65 percent were at least 50 years of age, old enough to have served in the 1990-91 Gulf War, the Vietnam War or previous conflicts.

Fewer members of that age group are likely to have seen combat since the current stretch of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq began in the early 2000s.

RELATED: See images of Veteran's Day around America:

26 PHOTOS
NTP: Veterans Day around the US
See Gallery
NTP: Veterans Day around the US
Arnold DeVille of Washington, visits the grave of his brother in law, Army PFC Frank McCoy, who received the purple heart while serving in Vietnam, and died in 1997, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, on Veterans Day in Section 60 in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
David Horne of Baltimore, Md., visits the grave of National Guard Staff Sgt. Daniel Suplee of Baltimore, Md., who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Reynolds of Houston, Texas, accompanied by his girlfriend Ashley Voyles, visits the grave of Army Cpl. William Amundson Jr. who died in 2004, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The morning sun shines over tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. President Barack Obama is honoring current and former members of the military as well as their families on Veterans Day today. This morning he's hosting a breakfast to honor veterans and their loved ones. And later on, the president will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Television writer and veteran Norman Lear, right, shakes hands with Tuskegee Airmen Roscoe Brown during the annual Veteran's Day parade in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The two served in the air force at the same time during World War II. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A color guard presents the flags during a Veteran's Day observance at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Army veteran James F. Gerald, 85, right, visits with members of the South Side High School Junior ROTC following a Veteran's Day observance at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In observance of Veteran's Day, Elsa Guerra visits the grave sites of her father, grandfather, and two uncles at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Kevin Kelly from the Joseph E. Zaloga American Legion Post rolls up a flag after a Veterans Day parade on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Jiffy Helton Sarver, of Monroe, Ga., visits the grave of her son, 1st Lt. Joseph Helton, Jr., who was killed while serving in Iraq in 2009, at Georgia National Cemetery on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Canton, Ga. "His smile and his soft brown eyes," said Sarver of what she remembered most about her son. "He always tried to do better today than he did yesterday and helping someone else do the same." (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A Marine Corps flag is seen in the foreground as members of the WarFighters Motorcycle of Maryland visit fallen friends in section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Fresh footsteps in the morning dew from a mother visiting her son's grave are seen in the grass as tombstones stand in the background on Veterans Day at Georgia National Cemetery, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Canton, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A member of the Girl Scouts Overseas Korea, left, salutes with U.S. and South Korean soldiers during the Veterans Day Ceremony in front of the 8th Army War Memorial at Yongsan Main Post in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas, smiles as she is recognized for being one of the first two female graduate of the Army's rigorous Ranger School, during a luncheon for military women â active-duty service members and veterans, spouses and caregivers â at the Vice President's official residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
An American flag sits in front of gravestones on Veterans Day at San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio of San Francisco, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Army veterans Don Doyle, left, and Salvado Campos Jr., right, salute during a Veteran's Day observance at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A memorial services detachment group waits to perform a 21-gun salute during a Veteran's Day observance at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Yellow roses are placed at the south pool of The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in honor of Veterans day on the names of the veterans who died during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A member of the Warren County Sheriff's Honor Guard carries an American flag through the audience during a Veterans Day ceremony in the Countryside YMCA's gymnasium, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Lebanon, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A child holds an American flag over her head during a Veterans Day ceremony in the Countryside YMCA's gymnasium, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Lebanon, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
An American flag is folded as members of Lebanon High School's Air Force ROTC look on during a Veterans Day ceremony in the Countryside YMCA's gymnasium, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Lebanon, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Retired USMC Maj. William Fry salutes during the pledge of allegiance during a Veterans Day ceremony in the Countryside YMCA's gymnasium, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Lebanon, Ohio. The Maineville, Ohio veteran served for 21 years. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Members of the Marine Corps. League's Trenton Detachment stand together near the colonnade at the Princeton Battlefield during a Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Princeton, N.J. The Princeton Battlefield Society honored William Shippen, who died at the Battle of Princeton, and was the first U.S. Marine in history to die in a land battle. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Desert Storm veteran Tim Battle holds a large American flag as he watches for the Veterans Day parade to begin Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in downtown Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Nicolas Parada, 5 of Stafford, Va., plays near the grave of his uncle, Marine Cpl. Nicolas Parada Rodriguez who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"One veteran suicide is one too many, and this collaborative effort provides both updated and comprehensive data that allows us to make better informed decisions on how to prevent this national tragedy," Dr. David Shulkin, the Veterans Affairs under secretary for health, said in a statement.

Fuller analysis and details, including aggregate numbers of veteran suicides on a yearly basis, are expected to be included in a final version of the study to be released next month.

Previous research of the link between battlefield trauma and suicide has found that among veterans who endured combat, those who suffered multiple wounds were at the highest risk of later killing themselves, according to a fact sheet on the website of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has taken a number of steps to prevent suicides, including the 2007 creation of a telephone hotline.

The latest figures from the department show that since 2001 the rate of suicide among veterans who do not use Veterans Affairs services increased by nearly 39 percent, compared with less than 9 percent for those who did. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Gorman and Leslie Adler)


Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners