|Veterans of war, including the more recent Operation
Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), suffer mental
health consequences -- including suicide risk -- that can stay with them
long after their tours of duty are over. In recognition of the need to
address the high rate of suicide among veterans, the Department of
Veterans Affairs provides a Suicide Prevention Lifeline specifically for
veterans: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
This number is staffed by trained professionals every hour of the day.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs website, in its first
year, approximately 62,000 veterans, family members, and friends of
veterans have used Lifeline to cope with a crisis situation.
In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a website with
helpful information on how to identify early warning signs of suicide.
This is an excellent resource for veterans and their friends and family
The Cost of War
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)
veterans exhibit a number of difficulties, including posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTSD), depression, alcohol abuse, physical health
problems, and difficulties managing anger, and there is some evidence
that OIF and OEF veterans may also be at heightened risk for suicide.
Some reports have come out that indicate high rates of suicide among OIF/OEF
veterans. For example, in 2007, the U.S. Army reported that there were
115 suicides among OIF/OEF veterans. This was the highest number of
suicides reported since the Army started keeping track about 30 years
Another study also found that, among almost 500,000 OIF/OEF veterans,
818 had ended their own life. Risk for suicide among these veterans,
however, was not higher than that found for people in the general U.S.
population, and risk did not really differ depending on a veteran's
branch of service (for example, Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force).
However, former active duty veterans and veterans who had a psychiatric
disorder were at greater risk for suicide.
Getting Additional Help
If you don't have a therapist and are experiencing suicidal thoughts or
feel that you might be someone who could be at risk for harming
yourself, it is also going to be important to seek out a psychiatric
evaluation and a therapist. Suicidal thoughts are a sign that you may
need some immediate help with your symptoms. You can find PTSD treatment
providers in your area through UCompare HealthCare, a free searchable
database from About.com.