Understanding Veteran Suicide and Effective Preventive Measures

Noah Warren
September 18, 2023

Veteran suicide is a deeply concerning issue that demands our attention and collective effort to understand and prevent. The unique experiences faced by military veterans, including the trauma of combat, can contribute to heightened risk factors for suicide. By examining the risk factors and signs, understanding the prevalence and incidence, and exploring treatment options, we can work towards effective prevention strategies that support the well-being of our courageous veterans.

Free Silhouette of Soldiers Walking Stock Photo
Source: Pexels.com

Understanding Risk Factors and Signs

Identifying the risk factors and signs associated with veteran suicide is crucial for early detection and intervention. While each individual's experience is unique, several common factors have been identified:

Mental Health Challenges

Conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders can significantly increase the risk of suicide among veterans. It is important to note that veterans may experience mental health symptoms that are specific to their military service.

Traumatic Experiences

Exposure to combat trauma, witnessing violence or death, and the loss of comrades can deeply impact the psychological well-being of veterans and contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Difficult Transitions

The challenges associated with transitioning from military service to civilian life, including difficulties finding employment, social isolation, and loss of identity, can exacerbate feelings of despair and hopelessness.

Recognizing the signs of suicidal ideation is equally crucial. These may include increased isolation, expressing feelings of worthlessness, obtaining weapons or lethal means, engaging in reckless behavior, or making direct or indirect references to suicide. It is imperative to take any indication of suicidal thoughts seriously and seek immediate help.

Prevalence and Incidence of Veteran Suicide

The prevalence of veteran suicide in our society is a sobering reality that highlights the urgent need for intervention. While the exact numbers may vary, studies consistently demonstrate higher rates of suicide among veterans compared to the general population.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 17 veterans die by suicide each day in the United States. This alarming statistic emphasizes the critical importance of addressing the mental health needs of our veteran community and implementing effective preventive measures.

Treatment Options for Prevention

Preventing veteran suicide requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses early intervention, accessible treatment options, and ongoing support. Here are some key strategies:

Mental Health Screening

Routine mental health screenings can help identify and address potential mental health concerns promptly. The U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs provide screening programs aimed at early detection and intervention.

Evidence-Based Therapies

Effective treatment options for veteran suicide prevention include evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on addressing negative thought patterns and behavior. Additionally, specialized therapies targeting trauma, such as prolonged exposure therapy or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), can be beneficial.

Medication Management

In some cases, medications may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms associated with mental health conditions. Psychiatric medications, when used in conjunction with therapy, can support overall well-being and stabilization of mental health.

Social Support and Peer Networks

Encouraging veterans to connect with peer support networks and veteran service organizations can provide a vital sense of belonging, understanding, and shared experiences. These resources can offer emotional support, camaraderie, and assistance in navigating the challenges of transitioning into civilian life.

Public Awareness and Education

Increasing public awareness about veteran suicide and combating the stigma associated with mental health are key in fostering supportive and understanding communities. Education campaigns and initiatives can help dispel misconceptions and promote empathy, thereby reducing barriers to seeking help.


Addressing veteran suicide requires a multifaceted and compassionate approach that combines early detection, accessible treatment options, and ongoing support. By raising awareness and providing targeted interventions, we can empower our veterans to seek help, find hope, and ultimately prevent suicide.

If you or someone you know is a veteran in crisis, reach out to the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, or text 838255 for immediate assistance. Remember, supporting our veterans is a collective responsibility, and together we can make a difference. You may also call us at Roots Mental Wellness for other mental health services.

Noah Warren
Director of Business Development