Military Service Members and Veterans

Suicide is an important problem affecting military service members and veterans. The military services include an Active Component (Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy) and a Reserve Component. Estimates from the U.S. Department of Defense suggest that although suicide rates vary across these groups, they remain higher than they were in 2003.1

Among veterans, the suicide rate appears to have stabilized in recent years.2 But this rate remains unacceptably high. Recent estimates suggest that 22 veterans may die by suicide each day.2

To address this serious problem, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have put into place comprehensive suicide prevention programs.

Risk and Protective Factors

Suicide prevention efforts seek to reduce risk factors for suicide and strengthen the factors that help strengthen individuals and protect them from suicide. Here are a few examples:

Risk factors

  • Mood and anxiety disorders
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Prior suicide attempt
  • Stressful situations (e.g., childhood trauma, relationship problems, legal issues, financial troubles)
  • Physical health problems

Protective factors

References

  1. U.S. Department of Defense. (2015). DoDSER Department of Defense Suicide Event Report: Calendar Year 2014 Annual Report. Retrieved from: http://www.dspo.mil/Portals/113/Documents/CY%202014%20DoDSER%20Annual%20...
  2. Kemp J., Bossarte, R. (2012). Suicide data report, 2012: Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services Suicide Prevention Program. Retrieved from http://www.va.gov/opa/docs/suicide-data-report-2012-final.pdf.

Learn More

  • See the Recommended Resources below selected by SPRC personnel.
  • See All Resources Related to Military Service Members and Veterans for a full list of materials, programs, trainings, and other information available from SPRC. Use the filters on the left to narrow your results.
  • For more on other groups and settings, see our Populations and Settings pages.
Recommended Resources
The DoD Suicide Event Report (DoDSER) standardizes suicide surveillance efforts across the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy.
This report, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, presents data sources related to suicide among veterans.
The website of DSPO oversees the U.S. Department of Defense suicide and risk reduction programs, policies, and surveillance activities.
This section of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website provides suicide prevention information for veterans and their families.
This website connects veterans in crisis with caring responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, an online chat, and text.
This website connects service members in crisis with caring responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, an online chat, and text.

All Resources Related to Military Service Members and Veterans

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