Veterans and military service members are at particularly high risk for suicide. Many services are available to assist veterans to find hope, even though asking for help can be difficult.

Veterans are more likely than the civilian population to develop specific mental health problems, like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury; they are also at higher risk for developing associated substance use disorders. Often these conditions remain untreated and all of these conditions contribute to an increased risk of suicide among US military veterans.

VA data from 2016 indicates that the veteran suicide rate in Oregon was higher than the national rate.  In 2016, 70.5 % of Veteran Suicides in Oregon, or 86 Veteran suicide deaths, were by firearms.

Veteran Suicides by Age Group

According to the (2005-2016) VA National Suicide Data Report, the suicide rate among Veterans ages 18–34 increased substantially in recent years, and the rate in 2016 was significantly higher than in 2014.  Rates of suicide are highest among younger male Veterans ages 18–34 and lowest among male Veterans ages 55–74. Despite the increased suicide rate among Veterans ages 18–34, Veterans ages 55–74 represented the greatest share of suicide deaths in 2016, with Veterans age 55 and older accounting for 58.1 percent of suicide deaths.

Suicide and Mental Health

Ultimately, mental health is about being cognitively, emotionally and socially healthy – the way we think, feel and develop relationships – and not merely the absence of a mental health condition.

Suicidal behaviour indicates deep unhappiness, not necessarily a mental health issue. Many people living with mental health issues aren’t suicidal, and not all people who take their own lives have a mental health issue.

Factors contributing to suicide risk are extremely complex and can include mental illness as well as a host of other factors including substance misuse or financial instability. New data from the CDC indicates that more than half of people who died by suicide in 2016 had no known mental health disorder at the time of death, however, it also states, “it is possible that mental health conditions or other circumstances could have been present and not diagnosed, known, or reported.”

Of the total suicide deaths in 2016, 10.3% of individuals had a diagnosed serious mental illness, according to a 27-state sample analysis conducted by the CDC. Extrapolated to the entire United States, this indicates that approximately 4,649 individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder died by suicide in 2016.


Oregon Veteran Suicide Data 2016

Veterans Crisis Lines Locator

Lines for Life Military Help Line

Veterans Crisis Line

Call or text 988

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Stop Soldier Suicide: Military & Veteran Suicide Prevention

Make the Connection: Information and Resources for Family and Friends of Veterans

NAMI Homefront: a free, 6-session educational program for families, caregivers and friends of military service members and veterans with mental health conditions. Training available online.

NAMI Homefront curriculum outline