In their most recent annual report on the suicide rate of veterans, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) has announced that the suicide rate is on the decline, at the highest rate since 2001. This decline is seen as a result of efforts made by the VA to tackle the difficult issues of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems that are common among veterans. However, more work needs to be done for veterans who still struggle with their mental health after returning to civilian life.
The Scourge of Suicide Among Veterans
It has been well-known for decades that veterans have a substantially higher risk of suicide compared to the general population. At its highest, the suicide rate among veterans was measured as being 66.3% higher than the general population, which was found back in 2017. It has since decreased to only being about 55% higher than the general population in the latest report, although it obviously remains a serious problem that many veterans must contend with.
Why Veterans Struggle With Suicide
One of the main reasons that veterans are at much higher risk to commit suicide than the general population is due to mental health issues that, sadly, often go unaddressed. Veterans are much more likely than the general population to suffer from PTSD and major depression, which in turn increases the likelihood of suicide. They also have, in the past, struggled to get access to mental health care, assuming they could be convinced to seek mental health treatment at all.
How the VA is Helping
For the past few years, the VA has been increasing the tools available to veterans and their healthcare providers to make it easier for them to get treatment for their mental health issues. It has been investing in telehealth services and other means of assisting veterans with disabilities to get counseling without the trouble caused by needing to physically visit a therapist. They have also been investing in community-based organizations to help veterans where they live, in order to prevent suicide and intervene when a veteran seems suicidal. This, combined with other factors, has allowed the suicide rate among veterans to drop about 6% compared to the previous year’s report.
What You Should Do
If you are a veteran struggling with your mental health, you should speak to a therapist. If you have trouble affording therapy, and especially if you are a veteran with a physical or psychological disability, you may be able to obtain treatment for your mental health issues through the VA. However, the only way to know for sure is to speak to a lawyer with knowledge of veterans’ disability law, who can help you determine what benefits you might be entitled to.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.