The media has been reporting extensively on the high rate of suicide in the military. The number of suicides is nearly double that of a decade ago. 

In 2012, the number of suicides among active-duty servicemen and women hit an all time high: 349. That number actually exceeds the number of soldiers killed who served in Afghanistan that year. The Pentagon continues to struggle with these soaring suicide rates among active duty soldiers. While some may suggest that they things will improve when these soldiers return home, the equally disturbing rate of veterans suicides suggests otherwise.

Roughly 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and many critics are looking to the VA for help. There is a serious need to increase services and outreach programs to veterans, so that the stigma associated with mental illness does not deter veterans from seeking assistance. The American public in general needs to be informed about mental illness, so that they too can identify signs and help those suffering find the support they need. Daniel Somers's chilling suicide note also brought these issues to light.

Making matters worse, the long VA backlog already has the organization stretched thin, which may mean that less time is given to these issues. 

If you or someone you know is at risk. Do not hesitate to call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.

Warning signs include:

  • appearing sad or depressed most of the time
  • deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping or eating
  • feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep
  • neglecting personal welfare
  • withdrawing from friends, family, or society, or sleeping all the time
  • losing interests in hobbies, work, school, etc.
  • expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame
  • feelings of failure
  • dramatic mood changes

Find out more about identifying signs here.

This post was sourced from the following articles:

James Dao and Andrew W. Lehren, "Baffling Rise in Suicides Plagues the U.S. Military" May 13, 2013, New York Times, online here.

Steven R. Hurst, "Growing Problem of Suicide in Military Spotlights VA" June 25, 2013, Army Times, online here. (removed)

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