Suicide Prevention Among Veterans [May 5, 2008]   [open pdf - 120KB]

"Numerous news stories in the popular print and electronic media have documented suicides among servicemembers and veterans returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). In the United States, there are more than 30,000 suicides annually. Suicides among veterans are included in this number, but it is not known in what proportion. There is no nationwide system for surveillance of suicide specifically among veterans. Recent data show that about 20% of suicide deaths nationwide could be among veterans. It is not known what proportion of these deaths are among OIF/OEF veterans. Veterans have a number of risk factors that increase their chance of attempting suicide. These risk factors include combat exposure, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems, traumatic brain injury (TBI), poor social support structures, and access to lethal means. Several bills addressing suicide in veterans have been introduced in the 110th Congress. On November 5, 2007, the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act (P.L. 110-110) was signed into law, requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a comprehensive program for suicide prevention among veterans. More recently, the Veterans Suicide Study Act (S. 2899) was introduced. This bill would require the VA to conduct a study, and report to Congress, regarding suicides among veterans since 1997. The VA has carried out a number of suicide prevention initiatives, including establishing a national suicide prevention hotline for veterans, conducting awareness events at VA medical centers, and screening and assessing veterans for suicide risk."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34471
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