HealthDay News — Suicide rates increased significantly more for U.S. veterans from 2006 to 2020 than for the U.S. adult population, according to a research letter published online Aug. 28 in JAMA Neurology.
Jeffrey T. Howard, Ph.D., from University of Texas at San Antonio, and colleagues examined trends in suicide rates for veterans with and without traumatic brain injury (TBI) compared to the U.S. adult population. The analysis included more than 2.5 million U.S. military veterans serving after 9/11 with matched mortality data derived from the National Death Index (2006 to 2020).
The researchers found that crude suicide death rates were 42.13 among veterans versus 18.42 per 100,000 person-years for the U.S. adult population. For veterans, suicide rates significantly increased above 2006 levels beginning in 2008 (mortality rate ratio [MRR], 3.20; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.98 to 5.45) through 2020 and increased above 2006 levels beginning in 2012 (MRR, 1.13; 95 percent CI, 1.02 to 1.25) through 2020 for the U.S. adult population. Suicide rates were significantly higher in veterans with TBI (MRR, 1.56; 95 percent CI, 1.46 to 1.67) and increased annually from 2006 to 2020 by 14.8 percent. For veterans without TBI, the increase was 14.4 percent, and for the U.S. adult population, the increase was 1.2 percent. From 2019 to 2020, there was no change in suicide rates for the U.S. adult population, but there were increases for veterans with and without TBI (80.16 to 90.81 and 49.82 to 56.65 per 100,000 person-years, respectively).
“Potential explanations for increases in suicide include increased risk of mental health diagnoses, substance misuse, and gun violence,” write the authors.