VA Releases 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report
VA released the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, which includes findings from its most recent analysis of 2005–2017 suicide rates for both Veteran and non-Veteran populations.
Data from the report emphasizes that suicide is a public health problem impacting Veterans and non-Veterans across the nation. VA offers within this report a renewed and determined call to unrelentingly address the crisis of Veteran suicide.
Key data findings from the report include the following:
- From 2005 to 2017, suicides among all U.S. adults increased by 43.6 percent, while suicides among Veterans increased by 6.1 percent.
- America’s non-Veteran population is increasing while its Veteran population is decreasing over time.
- The number of Veteran suicides exceeded 6,000 each year from 2008 to 2017.
- In 2017, the suicide rate for Veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-Veteran adults, after adjusting for population differences in age and sex.
- Firearms were the method of suicide in 70.7% of male Veteran suicide deaths and 43.2% of female Veteran suicide deaths in 2017.
- In addition to the aforementioned Veteran suicides, there were 919 suicides among never federally activated former National Guard and Reserve members in 2017, an average 2.5 suicide deaths per day.
One key change from this year’s report is that it does not group together Veterans eligible for VA services with active duty service members and former National Guard and Reserve members who were never federally activated. This change was necessary because these groups are unique and do not all qualify for the same benefits and services, therefore they require individualized outreach strategies.
Moving forward, VA’s report will include a separate section focusing on never federally activated former Guard and Reserve members, while the Department of Defense will publish a separate report focusing on active-duty suicides.
The most recent data, from 2017, is being used to inform and evaluate VA’s suicide prevention initiatives in 2019. Not all Veterans have the same risk for suicide, and prevention efforts are most effective when they are matched to a Veteran’s level of risk. The comprehensive data analyses presented in the report enables VA to better address suicidal behaviors among Veterans at various levels of risk.
Veteran suicide prevention is the top clinical priority for VA. With the release of the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, VA urges all Americans to come together to address the larger societal issues fueling the increased rates of suicide in our nation. We can prevent suicide through meaningful connection, one person at a time.
To read more about the most recent Veteran suicide data from 2017, as well as current VA initiatives to prevent Veteran suicide, please see the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, available at: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/mentalhealth/suicide_prevention/data.asp.