No matter how you measure, suicide rates among U.S. veterans are higher than those for the non-veteran population. Veterans Administration numbers for 2016 show that veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide than their non-veteran peers. (2016 Suicide Data Report, U.S. Veterans Administration). These numbers have grown even more troubling since the launch of the long standing conflicts that followed 9/11.
This is a sad and bitter toll for their families, friends, and communities -- and a serious loss to a nation that needs their talents, energy, and strength. In particular, the rate of suicide among younger veterans has surged, robbing the world of their potential. For 2016, the rate was 45 suicides per 100,000 veterans aged 18 to 34, the highest of any age group (Military Times, Sept. 9, 2018). The root cause of this alarming rise in veteran suicides is hotly debated, with many arguing that there now exists an enormous disconnect in America between those that serve and those that do not. This divide has likely caused a dichotomy in American society that has never been seen before. With the veteran becoming an ever smaller percent of the American public, we must be concerned that this may further exacerbate this divide.
While the Veterans Administration struggles to improve its intervention and prevention efforts, many community and charitable organizations have risen to the challenge. Among them is Stop Soldier Suicide, a group that works to help veterans and their families access mental health resources, emergency financial aid, housing assistance and other help. This veteran-run organization assigns case managers to craft individual plans of action, and follows veterans and their needs for 24 months to make sure issues are being addressed.
During business hours (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern), Stop Soldier Suicide operates a toll-free case manager line at 1-844-889-5610.
If you are a veteran or active-duty service member in need of help, the Veterans Administration offers the following resources, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
- Toll-free crisis line: 1-800-273-8255
- Help by text: 838255
- Confidential Web chat: VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat
- TTY service for those who are deaf or hard of hearing: 1‑800‑799‑4889
As an organization committed to supporting and hiring veterans, Flags of Valor is proud to support Stop Soldier Suicide. Visit this page to view a video about their work and join our email list to stay aware of our work to support veterans.