The Department of Veteran Affairs released a briefing last Thursday indicating that male military veterans below the age of 30 are three times more likely to commit suicide than non-military members of the same cohort, reported ThinkProgress.
According to the briefing, the entire collective of military veterans didn’t see any increase in veteran suicides. However, suicides among the age 18 – 24 cohort increased by a rate of 33 per 100,000 over the course of three years. This increase translates to a suicide rate of 79.1 per 1,000 among young veterans while non-military males was dramatically lower, 25 per 1,000.
The trend among males aged 18 – 24 is similar to females also, albeit a much lower rate comparatively. Not surprisingly, sadly, 70 percent of male suicides are committed using firearms. Eighty percent of females, on the other hand, resorted to self-poisoning or firearms.
There are programs provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs to veterans with some success. Veterans enrolled in the Veteran Health Administration enjoyed a 30 percent decrease in suicides. Non-enrollees suicide numbers increased by 60 percent.
Military health professionals have still been unable to define exactly what causes veteran suicide rates to increase and be higher than that of the civilian population. Dr. Janet Kemp, the VA’s National Mental Health Director for Suicide Prevention, believes it could have something to do with injuries sustained during service and lifestyle readjustments.
Perhaps the worst part of the narrative is that because the VA is a broken system; there is a backlog of medical claims among enrolled veterans. Veterans looking for medical care can wait anywhere from six months to years to see a specialist. Someone with suicidal tendencies can ill-afford a long wait for treatment.
USA Today reported that “two-thirds or more of seriously hurt post-9/11 veterans report symptoms of PTSD. Struggling to return to civilian life, vets say the Department of Veteran Affairs does only a fair to poor job of helping them.”