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Soldier Suicides

14 Jan, 10 | by Steven Reid, Evidence-Based Mental Health

“Of the more than 30000 people who fall to suicide nationwide each year, 20 per cent are veterans. About 18 veterans commit suicide every day”. The US Veterans Affairs Secretary, Eric Shinseki, was speaking at the 2010 Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Conference – it’s hard to imagine the UK Ministry of Defence holding one.

Suicide in military and ex-military personnel is attracting headlines at the moment and a cohort study of veterans of the UK Armed Forces is the subject of this month’s EBMH Editor’s Choice (free to access). In common with the new US data young men (under the age of 25) are at particular risk, notably in the first two years post-discharge. The commentary points to evidence for pre-service vulnerability as a significant risk factor. Another one, presumably, is access to means i.e. weapons.

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