How Do We Stop Veteran Suicides? Give Them Hope

The newest data on veteran suicides is distressing.

A long-awaited Department of Veterans Affairs study has found that suicides among veterans increased more than 20 percent between 2007 and 2010 – with an average of 22 veterans per day killing themselves in 2010, up from an estimated 18 per day in 2007.

If there is any good news here, it’s that veterans account for a shrinking percentage of the nation’s total number of suicides.

Jan Kemp, the national mental health director for suicide prevention at the VA, told the New York Times: the fact that veterans accounted for a smaller portion of the nation’s suicides suggested that improved outreach and suicide prevention programs might have had an impact.

I certainly hope so. I just wish the veteran suicide rates were lower, given the health care benefits and other resources available to veterans these days.  

So what can be done to stop these suicides?

As I’ve written in a previous post, the answer boils down to this: We need to give these former soldiers a reason to live.

Giving them hope is our strongest weapon.

If you know a veteran contemplating suicide, get him or her help -- immediately. Have that person contact Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, press 1.

Richard VanHouten is the founder and CEO of Veterans Support Organization. 

Veteran Suicides
Health Care