Military veterans who utilize services of the Veterans Health Administration have much lower suicide rates than vets who do not use those services.
Claire A. Hoffmire, PhD, with the VISN2 Center for Excellence for Suicide Prevention, which is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and colleagues examined data on more than 170,000 suicides from between 2000 and 2010. Over that period, the suicide rates for veterans increased by about 25% compared to about 12% in the general population.
However, further analysis found that the suicide rate declined for vets who used VHA services, while it jumped for vets who didn’t partake of the services, the researchers report in Psychiatric Services in Advance.
Despite the results, the suicide rates for all vets is still much higher than the general public. Each day, about 22 vets commit suicide.
The researchers also noted that the study did not address why some vets do not use VHA services. Some of the reasons for not doing so may include stigma about mental health care, long wait times, access issues, and lack of knowledge about availability of services.
Hoffmire CA, et al. Changes in Suicide Mortality for Veterans and Nonveterans by Gender and History of VHA Service Use, 2000–2010. Psychiatr Serv. 2015; doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201400031.