Veterans Day is November 11 and it is a time to honor those who have served our country, but it should also serve as a reminder to check in on their mental health. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Veterans account for approximately 20% of the deaths from suicide in the United States. More recent estimates from the Department of Veterans Affairs increase the estimate to 22%. Based off of the most recent suicide statistics, we estimate that 18-22 Veterans die from suicide each day.
Service members and veterans face many stressors that can increase their risk for suicide. Risk factors include both combat and noncombat challenges, like traumatic experiences and frequent moves. Left unaddressed, stressors can become overwhelming and unbearable to deal with on their own. Service members and veterans may be more vulnerable to substance use disorders and mood disorders because of high levels of stress. Both disorders are associated with military suicide. Other stressors that increase suicide risk include relationship problems, work problems, and disciplinary or legal issues.
If you think someone is at risk, you can:
- Ask the person if he or she is thinking about suicide. Be caring, but direct.
- Call 911 if they are an immediate danger to themselves or those around them.
- Remove weapons, drugs, or other dangerous items from their environment.
- Stay with the person in crisis until help arrives.
- If you are on the phone with a person in crisis, stay on the line with that person and use another phone to call 911.
If a warrior you know needs help, there are many resources available including:
- Veterans Crisis Line – 800-273-8255, press 1 or live chat
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255 or live chat
- Marine Corps DSTRESS Line: 877-476-7734 or live chat
- Coast Guard Suicide Prevention: 855-CG-SUPRT (855-247-8778)
Service-specific suicide prevention programs and resources are also available:
- Air Force Suicide Prevention
- Army Suicide Prevention Program
- Marine Corps Community Services: Suicide Prevention
- Navy Suicide Prevention Branch (OPNAV N171)
- National Guard Suicide Prevention
Kailey Kocourek, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation, http://www.thekimfoundation.org/
Kailey Kocourek joined The Kim Foundation in July 2018 as the Project Coordinator. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from UNO in Public Health and is currently working towards her Master’s in Public Health from UNMC, expecting to graduate in May 2019. She was drawn to the non-profit world because of her passion for helping and educating others. In her spare time, she enjoys baking and spending time with her husband, Ethan, and two children, Kaiden and Emry.