What We Need To Share About Some Challenges Facing Our Veterans
- Three states are home to more than a million veterans: California (1.8 million), Florida (1.5 million), and Texas (1.7 million).
- The unemployment rate of post-9/11 veterans (aka “Gulf War-era II veterans”) is 2.9%.
- The average veteran is between the age of 45-65. Nearly 10 million veterans are age 65 or older.
- Veterans make up 12% of the adult homeless population. 60,000 homeless are veterans. 70% of homeless veterans suffer from substance abuse; 50% experience mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), making it harder to maintain relationships, hold down a job, function, feel hope, and often many are on the edge of suicide.
- Close to 20% of veterans who served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have admitted to PTSD symptoms each year.
- Many homeless veterans end up living on the streets for 8 or 9 times the length of their deployments.
- The US Army troops typically go on the most deployments. Approximately 700,000 soldiers have deployed multiple times, but at least 225,000 Army enlisted soldiers have deployed an average of 3 times or more.
- 2.77 million service members have been deployed since 9/11.
- Fifty-two thousand service members are physically wounded as a result of the current conflicts. As many as 400,000 service members live with the invisible wounds of war, including combat stress, traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Suicide By Numbers – A Heartbreaking View
The continued stigma surrounding suicide can lead to underreporting, making it even more difficult to reliably understand the exact numbers and potentially the even more crucial information behind the data. However, the numbers are painfully high, both within the civilian population and those from the military.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.
- In 2018, 48,344 Americans died by suicide
- In 2018, there were an estimated 1,400,000 suicide attempts
- In 2015, suicide and self-injury cost the US $ 69 Billion
- In 2018, 48,344 Americans died by suicide
Additional Facts About Suicide in the US:
- The age-adjusted suicide rate in 2018 was 14.2 per 100,000 individuals.
- The rate of suicide is highest in middle-age white men in particular.
- In 2018, men died by suicide 3.56x more often than women.
- On average, there are 132 suicides per day.
- White males accounted for 69.67% of suicide deaths in 2018.
- In 2018, firearms accounted for 50.57% of all suicide deaths.
In 2018, firearms were involved in the most suicides, accounting for a little more than half (50.54%) of all suicide deaths.
Something No One Wants to Talk About – But We Do
Information relating to attempts on one’s life, a complete count is even more difficult. The best we can hope for in gathering that data is self-reporting, reports from hospitals on non-fatal self-harm injuries, and information gleaned from surveys.
For example, as reported by the Association For Suicide Prevention: Nearly 575,000 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm. Based on the 2018 National Survey of Drug Use and Mental Health, it estimated that 0.5 percent of the adults aged 18 or older made at least one suicide attempt: that is 1.4 million adults. Adult females reported a suicide attempt 1.5 times as often as males.
When it comes to suicide and suicide attempts, they occur in all demographics. There are some rate differences such as gender and age, but it is fair to say that pain, torment, and despair can visit anyone with devastating consequences.
**** AFSP’s latest data on suicide are taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2018, as of March 1, 2020. Suicide rates listed are Age-Adjusted Rates.
Our Female Veterans
Women & Suicide
There are more than 2 million women veterans in the United States today, and women veterans are the nation’s fastest-growing veteran population.
Having already overcome the potential awkwardness of not fitting in with your male counterparts upon entering the service there can be the feeling of being displaced when trying to connect coming home. As with any veteran, many female veterans experience additional social alienation once they try to return to the civilian lifestyle they once lived.
Female veterans are 1.8 times more likely to commit suicide post-military than civilian females. The average female veteran feels isolated from the very same services that are said to provide help and support at the VA or other veteran organizations because they fail to accommodate single mothers with childcare options or kid-friendly environments.
Female veterans tend to fall into serious depression feeling that they don’t fit the profile of the standard male veteran when viewed by those outside of the military.
Many women go from visible SOLDIERS, AIRMEN, MARINES & SAILORS when in the service to what is tragically called “Invisible Veterans” becoming increasingly susceptible to substance abuse, mental health issues and suicide.
Does any of this ring true for you or someone you love?
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This Is Not the Battle You Need to Fight Alone
TBI – Traumatic Brain Injuries
Veterans with a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury are more than twice as likely as those without a TBI to commit suicide, researchers report.
Additionally, veterans with a moderate or severe TBI are at a higher risk of dying by suicide with a firearm.
Experts call traumatic brain injury (TBI) the “signature injury” of combat veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
As many as 23% of veterans of these conflicts return home with a TBI as a result of an explosion, objects hitting their heads, falls, or other causes.
TBIs, which run the gamut from a concussion to severe brain damage, can cause headaches, sleep disorders, memory problems, slower thinking, and depression. They’ve also been linked to mental illness and drug overdose.
According to the Department of Defense, 22% of all combat casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan result from brain injuries, roughly double the rate of the Vietnam War.
Approximately 57,000 veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts are getting treatment or getting evaluated for TBI or possible TBI-related conditions in the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ healthcare system.
Doctors may overlook TBIs and fail to diagnose them amidst other behavioral health problems following deployment. Since TBI symptoms can show up months, even years, later, medical practitioners should screen for TBI on an ongoing basis, Adams says.
****The paper appears in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. Additional coauthors are from VHA Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center in Colorado.
Source: Brandeis University
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