The number of male veterans under 30 ending their own lives jumps by 44 percent in two years

The number of male veterans under the age of 30 who commit suicide jumped by 44 percent between 2009 and 2011, the most recent year for which data was available, according to numbers released Thursday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Roughly two young veterans a day commit suicide.
Suicide rates for female vets also increased by 11 percent between 2009 and 2011. The suicide rate among veterans remains well above that for the general population, with roughly 22 former servicemen and women committing suicide every day.
The troubling spike in suicide rates among younger vets comes as overall suicide rates for people using the Veterans Health Administration have held relatively steady in recent years. Suicide rates among older veterans decreased 16.1 percent between 1999 and 2010, while the overall population of older U.S. males ages saw a 27.3 percent increase in the rate of suicide over the same period.
The leap in rates for the youngest vets has officials especially worried, Stars and Stripes reports. The cause of the increase remains unclear, but officials searching for reasons point to post-traumatic stress disorder, combat injuries and the difficulties young veterans face in re-entering civilian life.
“Their rates are astronomically high and climbing,” Jan Kemp, the VA’s National Mental Health Director for Suicide Prevention, told Stars and Stripes. “That’s concerning us.”


Facts and Figures


AFSP's latest data on suicide is taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2013. 
Suicide Deaths
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects data about mortality in the U.S., including deaths by suicide. In 2013 (the most recent year for which full data are available), 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans (Figure 1).In that year, someone in the country died by suicide every 12.8 minutes.
After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death.

To measure changes in the prevalence of suicide over time, the CDC calculates the country’s suicide rate each year. The suicide rate expresses the number of suicide deaths that occur for every 100,000 people in the population for which the rate is reported.
From 1986 to 2000, suicide rates in the U.S. dropped from 12.5 to 10.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 people in the population. Over the next 12 years, however, the rate generally increased and by 2013 stood at 12.6 deaths per 100,000 (Figure 2).

Are Suicide Rates Still Rising?
CDC figures for death by suicide are currently lagging by more than a year. Information is not yet available for 2014.
Who is Most at Risk for Death by Suicide?
Suicide death rates vary considerably among different groups of people. The CDC reports suicide rates by four key demographic variables: age, sex, race/ethnicity, and geographic region/state.

Suicide Rates by Age

In 2013, the highest suicide rate (19.1) was among people 45 to 64 years old. The second highest rate (18.6) occurred in those 85 years and older. Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults. In 2013, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 10.9 (Figure 3).

Suicide Rates by Sex

For many years, the suicide rate has been about 4 times higher among men than among women (Figure 4). In 2013, men had a suicide rate of 20.2, and women had a rate of 5.5. Of those who died by suicide in 2013, 77.9% were male and 22.1% were female.

Suicide Rates by Race/Ethnicity

White males accounted for 70% of all suicides in 2013.

In 2013, the highest U.S. suicide rate (14.2) was among Whites and the second highest rate (11.7) was among American Indians and Alaska Natives (Figure 5). Much lower and roughly similar rates were found among Asians and Pacific Islanders (5.8), Blacks (5.4) and Hispanics (5.7).
Note that the CDC records Hispanic origin separately from the primary racial or ethnic groups of White, Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Asian or Pacific Islander, since individuals in all of these groups may also be Hispanic.

Suicide Rates by Geographic Region/State

In 2013, nine U.S. states, all in the West, had age-adjusted suicide rates in excess of 18: Montana (23.7), Alaska (23.1), Utah (21.4), Wyoming (21.4), New Mexico (20.3), Idaho (19.2), Nevada (18.2), Colorado (18.5), and South Dakota (18.2). Five locales had age-adjusted suicide rates lower than 9 per 100,000: District of Columbia (5.8), New Jersey (8.0), New York (8.1), Massachusetts (8.2), and Connecticut (8.7).  (Figure 6).

Suicide Methods
In 2013, firearms were the most common method of death by suicide, accounting for a little more than half (51.4%) of all suicide deaths. The next most common methods were suffocation (including hangings) at 24.5% and poisoning at 16.1% (Figure 7).

Economic Impact of Completed Suicides
The economic cost of suicide death in the U.S. was estimated in 2010 to be more than $44 billion annually. With the burden of suicide falling most heavily on adults of working age, the cost to the economy results almost entirely from lost wages and work productivity.
Suicide Attempts
No complete count is kept of suicide attempts in the U.S.; however, the CDC gathers data each year from hospitals on non-fatal injuries resulting from self-harm behavior.
In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, 494,169 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm behavior, suggesting that approximately 12 people harm themselves (not necessarily intending to take their lives) for every reported death by suicide. Together, those harming themselves made an estimated total of more than 650,000 hospital visits related to injuries sustained in one or more separate incidents of self-harm behavior.
Because of the way these data are collected, we are not able to distinguish intentional suicide attempts from non-intentional self-harm behaviors. But we know that many suicide attempts go unreported or untreated, and surveys suggest that at least one million people in the U.S. each year engage in intentionally inflicted self-harm.
As with suicide deaths, rates of attempted suicide vary considerably among demographic groups. While males are 4 times more likely than females to die by suicide, females attempt suicide 3 times as often as males. The ratio of suicide attempts to suicide death in youth is estimated to be about 25:1, compared to a about 4:1 in the elderly.

Economic Impact of Suicide Attempts


Non-fatal injuries due to self-harm cost an estimated $2 billion annually for medical care. Another $4.3 billion is spent for indirect costs, such as lost wages and productivity.