Leo Sher, M.D.
The Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently published the 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report (1). This report provides information from 2001 through 2019, while recent prior reports included data from 2005 forward. Also, this report includes the most current data and applies methodologic enhancements, resulting in the most comprehensive assessment to date of Veteran suicide mortality, for the years 2001-2019.
There were 399 fewer Veteran suicides in 2019 than in 2018. There was a 7.2% overall decrease in the age- and sex-adjusted Veteran suicide mortality rate in 2019, as compared to 2018. The unadjusted suicide rate for male Veterans decreased 3.6% in 2019 from 2018 while the unadjusted suicide rate for female Veterans decreased 12.8% in 2019 from 2018. Veterans accounted for 5,989 suicides in 2001, which represented 20.2% of suicides among U.S. adults in 2001; and 6,261 suicides in 2019, which, by comparison, represented 13.7% of suicides among U.S. adults in 2019.
The report shows that the overall Veteran suicide count and rate decreased in 2019 from 2018 and from 2017. This news is encouraging. It provides hope and motivation for continued prevention work.
- Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report. September 2021. URL: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/data-sheets/2021/2021-National-Veteran-Suicide-Prevention-Annual-Report-FINAL-9-8-21.pdf