Honouring Veterans Means Caring About Their Mental Health

Today is Veterans Day in the US, and Remembrance Day in Canada, the UK, and across the Commonwealth. We pause to remember the sacrifices of those who served in our armed forces. Today is a good day to check in on the mental health of the veterans in your life.

military cemetery

Image by Ichigo121212 from Pixabay

The statistics are not good. 

Veterans are much more likely to commit suicide than members of the general public. Much. More. Likely.

In Canada, the risk of suicide is 40% higher for men and 80% higher for women.[1] [2]

Look at the American numbers. They’re similar: 28.7 female suicides /100 000 ( 5.2 for general pop.) and 32.1 male suicides /100 000 (compared to 20.9).[3]

Shockingly, in the UK, the “Ministry of Defence has no record of the number of [veteran] suicides” each year.[4]

A heartfelt thanks to veterans everywhere. Your service and sacrifice have not gone unnoticed. We are here to help. We will hold your hand in the darkness.  We will sit with you when memories and despair become overwhelming.  Today, remembrance dr1ves us.

 

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[1] Simkus, K., & VanTil, L. 2018 Veteran Suicide Mortality Study: Identifying Risk Groups at Release.  Charlottetown (PEI): Veterans Affairs Canada, Research Directorate Technical Report, December 4, 2018.

[2] Simkus, K., VanTil, L., & Pedlar, D. 2017 Veteran Suicide Mortality Study: 1967 to 2012.   Charlottetown (PEI): Veterans Affairs Canada, Research Directorate Technical Report, November, 2017.

[3] Hoffmire, C. A., Kemp, R. N., & Bossarte, R. M. “Changes in Suicide Mortality for Veterans and Nonveterans by Gender and History of VHA Service Use, 2000-2010.” Psychiatric Services Vol 66 (9), September 1, 2015, pp. 959:965. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201400031

[4] Beale, J., & Read, C.  “Is There a Suicide Crisis for British Veterans?” (video) BBC News.  February 16, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-47246487/is-there-a-suicide-crisis-for-british-veterans