Suicide among Veterans is a topic that the VA and many others are concerned about. Many are looking for new ways to bring awareness to the shocking Veteran suicide rate and decrease Veteran suicides. There are now programs and important congressional leaders who are advocating for Veteran suicide prevention and even dedicating a national holiday to bring awareness to suicide among Veterans.
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National Day Dedicated to Veteran Suicide Prevention
All seven former Department of Veterans Affairs secretaries, for the second year in a row, are urging Congress to designate the Sunday after Veterans Day as National Warrior Call Day. They’re pushing for this national holiday to bring awareness and care toward Veteran suicide prevention.
The national holiday would encourage the general public and Veterans to reach out to Veterans via phone call or meet up. This would show Veterans that there are people who care and are there to support them through their struggles.
The campaign is spearheaded by Veteran suicide prevention organizations Warrior Call and the Troops First Foundation. These organizations are composed of a network of active-duty service members and Veterans who provide a suicide prevention hotline to those who are suffering from mental health issues.
This year, National Warrior Call Day would be on Sunday, November 13, 2022. With it being on the heels of Veterans Day and right before Thanksgiving, it can increase awareness for Veteran suicide prevention and highlight the impact warrior calls can have.
Suggested read: New Study Group Aims To Reduce Suicide Rate in the Military
Veteran Suicide Rates
In the year 2020, 377 active-duty service members died by suicide, which increased from 348 suicides in the year 2019. Since 2016, the number of active-duty service members who die by suicide has been steadily increasing. In 2021, there were 522 active-duty service members and Veterans combined who died by suicide.
According to VA suicide statistics, in 2019, 6,261 Veterans committed suicide, which is close to 400 fewer deaths by suicide than the year prior. Out of all adults in the United States, when adjusted for age and gender, the Veteran suicide rate was nearly 50% higher. To compare, the suicide rate among all adults in the U.S. is 18.3 per 100,000, while for Veterans, it’s 26.9 per 100,000.
What Causes Veteran Suicides?
Many Veterans and active-duty military members struggle with suicidal ideation. But why are they struggling? There is no single answer or cause, but by advocating for Veteran suicide prevention, we can help treat and prevent mental health issues and substance use conditions.
Mental health and substance use conditions are two of the leading causes of suicides within the military. By supporting our Veterans and military members who are struggling with these issues through a suicide hotline or the Veterans crisis line, we can do our part in helping to prevent Veteran and active-duty military suicides.
How To Prevent Veteran Suicides
For family members, friends, or caregivers of Veterans or active-duty military members who struggle with their mental health or show signs of potential self-harm or suicide, there are many ways you can help with Veteran suicide prevention.
There are multiple Veteran suicide prevention programs that advocate for helping Veterans and active-duty service members. The VA has a lot of resources and evidence-based treatment plans that’ve been shown to help, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, safety planning intervention, problem-solving therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy.
If you’re a Veteran who struggles with PTSD, you also may be eligible for VA PTSD claims. By making an appointment with your local Veterans hospital, you can access mental health providers that are covered by your VA health insurance and keep track of your prescriptions and appointments through My VA Health.
Veteran suicide prevention and awareness is an important cause that could make improvements and help to give more support to Veterans who struggle with mental health and other factors that could lead them to suicide. If you or a loved one feel you need help, reach out to others and suicide prevention programs for support and assistance.