VA’s latest data from 2019 shows a decrease in suicide among Veterans from the year prior. The decrease, reflecting the lowest number of Veteran suicides since 2007, provides hope and motivation for continued prevention efforts. This message is part of the new 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, which includes findings from our most recent analysis of Veteran suicide data from 2001-2019. The report contains the most comprehensive set of data about Veteran suicide mortality to date.

VA holds fast to the anchors of hope in this report, but notes that there is more work to do to address Veteran suicide.

Key report findings include:

  • In 2019, there were 6,261 Veteran suicide deaths, 399 fewer than in 2018.
  • In 2019, the Veteran suicide rate was 31.6 per 100,000, substantially higher than the rate among non-Veteran US adults (16.8 per 100,000).
  • Adjusting for age- and sex-differences, the rate among Veterans in 2019 was 52.3% higher than for non-Veteran US adults. The rate difference between Veterans and the non-Veteran U.S. population was highest in 2017 at 66.3%.
  • From 2018 to 2019, there was a 7.2% overall decrease in the age- and sex-adjusted Veteran suicide mortality rate in 2019, while among non-Veteran US adults, the adjusted suicide mortality rate fell by 1.8%.
  • The age-adjusted suicide rate for male Veterans decreased 3.8% in 2019 from 2018 while the age-adjusted suicide rate for female Veterans decreased 14.9% in 2019 from 2018.
  • Firearms were more often involved in Veteran suicides in 2019 than in 2018 (among Veteran men who died from suicide: 69.6% in 2018, 70.2% in 2019; among Veteran women who died from suicide: 41.1% in 2018, 49.8% in 2019).

Though having this data is useful to Veteran advocates and those who work in public policy and public health, there is still a lot to do. Rates remain high and efforts are still needed to ensure comprehensive solutions – everyone has a role to play in saving lives.

VA’s first responsibility is to the people who served, and to be concerned about this tragic outcome while also trying to understand it.

Second, suicide is preventable. Because Veterans served our country, VA believes everyone has an obligation to support them and prioritize suicide prevention efforts.

Suicide prevention remains a top priority for VA and the top clinical priority for VHA, with the most significant amount of resources ever appropriated and apportioned to VA suicide prevention. VA continues to implement a 10-year strategy – as outlined in the 2018 National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide – to end Veteran suicide through a public health approach that combines both community-based and clinically-based strategies.

This latest data shows reasons to be encouraged, but VA remains focused on the mission as there is more work to be done.

For additional Veteran suicide mortality data, see the report’s accompanying state data sheets.


If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Reporters covering this issue can download VA’s Safe Messaging Best Practices fact sheet or visit www.ReportingOnSuicide.org for important guidance on how to communicate about suicide.

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2 Comments

  1. Tammy Johnson September 11, 2021 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Denis I know this first hand as the wife of a 20 yr retired army veteran for 25 years. My husband retired in 2003 but was in operation just cause, gulf war, the (so called) operation Iraqi freedom, and went twice as a dod contractor to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s bipolar, would binge drink when manic, was taking antibuse for a few years doing good not drinking and taking ambilify that worked well with only minor bouts of depression. His treating psychiatrist kept changing, moving away due to cost of living in Bay Area probably but when his last bout of depression began he had a wonderful psychologist but she didn’t and couldn’t prescribe meds. A psyc pharmacology specialist was prescribing his meds. He admitted himself to VA behavioral health, the most depressing place I’ve ever seen, they mix everyone together no matter what their mental diagnosis, the place itself was mot conducive for recovery and he hated being there even a few days. When this last bout began the psyc prescribing specialist, I’ll refer to her as She, took him off ambilify, the first big mistake and he became worse, then tried him on different meds that didn’t work and his condition deteriorated more and more. What is worse is he would beg her to put him back on ambilify because he did much better on it than the medicines she kept trying him on, I could hear her and him on the appointment calls and every time he would adamantly request ambilify as he could take no more suffering and this went on for several months and I was more worried than I’ve ever been about his mental state and what he might do and I watched him suffer more and more feeling helpless to do anything but hold his head when he cried like I’d never seen him do sober. Well, him being bipolar and more prone to mania she still put him on Prozac and of course he started feeling better or at least he thought so but I could see it was the wrong kind of better, and then she doubled the dose! Well he went from sleeping 8-10 hours a day to sleeping 2-3 hours a day and going outside every fifteen minutes to smoke and wandering around wild eyed, talking rapidly and making plans for us to take trips that weren’t even possible and also shopping online buying things he didn’t need and couldn’t afford. Finally, to late she prescribed him the ambilify, he by then didn’t want it as it might interrupt his euphoric high flying state of mind. Soon after I got up one morning and he was gone! Gone taking nothing but his custom made computer and screens, I almost fell to my knees. He didn’t take his smaller car. He severed all ties with me and his precious grandchildren. He, wrongly, thought he could go to Mexico to live and live it up, he went there but to receive his VA benefits he had to keep a San Diagonal address and did as long as he could while flying high on Prozac. After failing that he only had his sisters to go to where he still is. Our marriage is probably over and he is very cold to me, he bought a new truck he couldn’t afford among other things and he’s now deep in debt and has ruined his credit that we worked hard to repair and paid a lot to do. All these grandiose impossible things is all due to his being a lab rat for that psyc so called specialist, they also did targeted transcranial magnetic stimulation that made him sick and he had to stop. Our entire family has been torn apart and torn up and his grandchildren are suffering untold hurt, I’ve been crying uncontrollably every day when I hear or see or do something related to him/us. 25 years and he ran away to an impossible fantasy due to his Treatment. I had to move in with my daughter and son in law and the grandchildren he loved and interacted with all the time. The house, garage, and a storage rental and yard is over flowing with 25 yrs of an accumulated life together. He’s been gone three months now, we’ve lost everything. But mainly him. He’s being tapered off Prozac over 2,000 miles away and I’m blocked from communicating with him although he calls my older grandson often and doesn’t sound well from what I can hear of his voice.
    I’m not sure how this will play out, there’s no place for him to come back to, he meant at the time to burn all bridges so that I had no control at all because I called the crises center and his psychologist and they tried to reach out to him and they not me called the VA police as was what they were supposed to do I guess do that caused him to cut every connection to me, I was his caregiver but he, even while manic, removed me immediately no questions asked and all because I did what I was supposed to do and called the crises nurse. I was legal fudiciary of his disability because he couldn’t manage money but caregivers and fudiciary can be removed with one phone call from the vet regardless of mental state. Knowing his mental state I’ve refrained from filing abandonment charges. I hope and pray he heals. That we all do. The sad thing is that with proper care this could have all been prevented. Family devastation.

  2. Dennis S Murray September 8, 2021 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    The VA should no they are why many Veterans commit suicide or have mental issues. To often they are put through the ringer (with paperwork despite filling that same paperwork two and three times) while applying for VA Help and their VA Benefits. While submitting the same documentation after documentation numerous times only for the VA to tells you, they have it. This is the norm. The VA has a long tradition to denied you your benefits more than two despite nothing that the appeal process takes more than two and sometime three year. I remember a Veteran that came in the Atlanta VA Hospital Center for help that morning and was told to come back the next day because that VA representative didn’t want to deal with him. That Veteran committed suicide hours later on the grounds of the VA Atlanta Hospital center. A Veteran came in for housing because he wife was extremely ill and he needed a safe place for her to rest in order to get medical attention, he was told to come back with eligibility papers for his wife, she die that night. I never saw him come back to the VA. These are just some of the horror stories i personally have witness Veterans go through. I have been personally battling with the VA for 45 year and was on the brink of committing suicide my self, but my daughter, older sister, my good friend, and GOD showed me the light. So i am still in the fight with the VA but too many Veterans don’t have the fight in them, therefore they commit sucuide and nobody knows why. This make me sad every time i get emails like this one from the VA, because i relieve this .

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