Veteran Suicides Increased From 2016 To 2017, New VA Study Finds

The latest data shows 6,139 U.S. veterans died by suicide in 2017, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

U.S. veteran suicides increased from 2016 to 2017, according to a new study released Friday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The most current national data yet on veteran suicide shows that in 2017, 6,139 veterans died by suicide, an increase of 129 from the year before. Since 2008, veteran suicides have exceeded 6,000 each year, according to the study.


Data shows the rate of U.S. veteran suicides from 2005 to 2017.
Data shows the rate of U.S. veteran suicides from 2005 to 2017.

The newest data is a sharp increase from 2015 to 2016, which saw veteran suicides decrease by 217. 

Other key findings from the study:

• Among U.S. adults, the average number of suicides per day rose from 86.6 in 2005 to 124.4 in 2017. These numbers included 15.9 Veteran suicides per day in 2005 and 16.8 in 2017.

• In 2017, the suicide rate for veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-veteran adults, after adjusting for population differences in age and sex.

• Firearms were the method of suicide in 70.7% of male veteran suicide deaths and 43.2% of female veteran suicide deaths in 2017.

• In addition to the aforementioned Veteran suicides, there were 919 suicides among never federally activated former National Guard and Reserve members in 2017, an average 2.5 suicide deaths per day. 

2018 government ranking of Veterans Affairs medical centers showed the number of top-rated facilities declined, though overall service improved. Veterans also have the ability to get private medical care if VA waitlists are too long, thanks to a law passed in 2014 that President Donald Trump falsely took credit for earlier this year.

In its report, the VA suggests more outreach and use of services including the Veterans Crisis Line as a way to combat the issue.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Veterans can contact the Veterans Crisis Line at (888) 640-5443.