United States of America Veterans Suicide

Subject: Political
Type: Argumentative Essay
Pages: 8
Word count: 2594
Topics: Army, Government, Military Science, Stress, Suicide, Veteran

Table of Contents


The main aim of this paper is to present an argument on the growing issue of veteran suicide. In this study, veterans are considered to be people in the armed forces as well as those who have retired from the armed forces. When you think of military veterans who have been in combat, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) pops up in your mind. Well, PTSD is one of the greatest issues affecting war veterans and can be attributed to veteran suicide. In fact, studies involving veterans with combat-related PTSD reveal that a significant number of United States veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD. PTSD is just one of the contributing factors to veteran suicide. When military men go to war, they come back as different people with regards to how they perceive the world around them. They are mostly traumatized and would rather resort to suicide in some cases. Thus, instead of condemning war veterans for committing suicide, they should help to overcome the plight that leads them to suicide in the first place. And overcoming veteran suicide can be achieved by first identifying the surrounding factors for the suicide because military veterans matter to us. In conclusion, the issues causing veteran suicide ought to be addressed so as to get rid of the problem.

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Veteran suicide is an ongoing phenomenon regarding the increasing number suicide among U.S. military veterans in comparison to the general public. Could it be possible that we are actually losing more duty service members through veteran suicide than in combat? Well, this is intriguing and most certainly worth exploring. People commit suicide for different reasons which are often unpleasant. Some opt for suicide because they find no meaning in life anymore, while others commit suicide because they cannot withstand their predicaments and suffering. A study by Lickerman (2010) reveals some of the common reasons as to why people attempt suicide, and they include falling into a depression, being psychotic, being impulsive which is often caused by drugs and alcohol, crying out for help yet failing to get it, having a philosophical desire to die, and having made a terrible mistake. However, it does not mean that suicide should be the last resort when conditions become intolerable. There is always a way out, and perhaps suicide victims just like someone to enlighten them on better ways to solve their problems other than succumbing to the influence of suicide to put an end to their suffering or misery. One big problem that has raised concerns is the rising suicide incidents amongst our military veterans. Actually, “suicide is far more understandable than people think” (Lickerman, 2010).

Several studies have proven that the rate of suicide for veterans has been on the rise in the recent past compared to nonveterans. In fact, a study by Freking (2016) reveals that more female veterans have been committing suicide compared to female civilians so that the risk for suicide is 2.4 times higher for female veterans relative to the female civilians. Moreover, on average, 20 veterans commit suicide on daily basis. This estimate is a drop from a study conducted in 2013 which indicated that 22 veterans committed suicide a day (Philipps, 2016: Freking, 2016). However, the decline in the number of suicide cases over the years does not mean that things are getting better for the military veterans. If in any case, things just got worse because the number of veterans is diminishing which means that we are probably losing more people in the military than ever before. There is a sharp rise in veteran suicide which has surged 35 percent since the year 2001 (Philipps, 2016). The veteran death rate was drawn from a study involving at least 55 million veteran deaths from 1979 to 2014 across all states in the U.S. Consequently, it is arguable that people are beginning to get afraid of joining the military due to the rise in a number of suicide cases in the recent past. They are probably afraid of meeting a fate similar to veterans and causing pain to those left behind because when you join the military, so does your family (Kenmill, 2017).

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As much as recent studies prove that there is a drop in the rate of suicide among veterans, the truth is that veteran suicide is still on the rise. Therefore, the drop should not even be spoken to the public because it might send a wrong impression and bring about unnecessary hopes of things getting better when they are actually worse than they seem. Suicide rates increased across all age groups, but the rise among young veterans was still the highest (Philipps, 2016). In fact, an epidemiologist who studies suicide for RAND Corporation stipulated that the decline in a number of suicide rate, represented by 22 deaths a day, should not be used because it does not tell us anything (Philipps, 2016). Actually, the results on suicide rate depend on datasets used for analysis (Gibbons, Brown, & Hur, 2012). For instance, datasets adjusted for age, marital status, living arrangement, race, education, family income, employment status, region, time since last doctor visit, self-rated health, and body mass index reveal an increased risk of suicide among veterans compared to nonveteran. On the other hand, when few datasets, such as those adjusted for differences in age, race, and survey year, are used, there is no record of increased rate of suicide among veterans.  This could, therefore, mean that the recorded decrease in suicide rate from 22 to 20 deaths a day came about as a result of researchers focusing on specific datasets or even populations of selected states.

Veteran suicide is an issue that should be brought to an end and this is achievable by first understanding the factors surrounding the suicides. A step towards ending veteran suicide requires involving bodies as well as family members that have some relationship with the veterans. The problem cannot be solved by blame game whatsoever because the military men will swear to protect their nation. However, it is imperative to acknowledge that the families and bodies such as Department of Defense (DoD) and VA are some of the factors surrounding veteran suicide. For instance, the U.S. military forces have been engaged in global conflicts and the conflicts continue to grow every time they are sent out in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The conflicts then lead to stress that continues to build up among the veterans so that they cannot stand it anymore. Stress is also caused by divorce, spouse and child abuse as well as drugs. Consequently, suicide results and this is an increasing issue across the U.S. DoD (Ramchand, Acosta, & Burns, 2011). The suicides are raising concerns among policy makers and the population at large. The good news is that the DoD is doing something about the suicide issue. The DoD posted the issue to the RAND National Research Institute (NDRI) and asked them to review suicide evidence details in the military, identify best suicide prevention programs, describe suicide prevention activities in DoD, and recommend ways to ensure that better practices are realized (Ramchand, Acosta, & Burns, 2011). This is an instance of an approach that brings hope as many people wish for the veteran suicide to end. Furthermore, other efforts include suicide assessment and management and also suicide prevention strategy as presented by Simon & Hales (2012). An important step towards curbing veteran suicide involves the identification of risks and prospective factors that prevail in military populations (Simon & Hales, 2012).

Besides stress from combat conflicts faced by the U.S. military, we also learned that some of the stress that contributes to veteran suicide is caused by family and relationship issues. Earlier on we learned that most of the veterans who suffer from suicide are young, some aged 17 to 24 years (Philipps, 2016: Gibbons, Brown, & Hur, 2012). The deaths of the young military men can theoretically be attributed the lack of endurance, little experience, and great expectations. For instance, when a soldier aged 19 years goes to war for the first time, they hope to succeed and come back home as heroes just like in the movies or just like their favorite heroes who inspire them. Unfortunately, they go through traumatic events while in combat and get very little appreciation when they return back home. This makes those who had great expectations feel neglected depending on their personalities. And worse even some go through breakups which hurt them even more so an extent that they cannot take it in anymore. The point is that veterans should be made to fill special even when they do not deserve some level of attention just so they can get rid of the psychological torture often brought about by war. Also, it would not be bad to make them feel like we owe them for sacrificing their lives to keep us safe.

One of the major causes of veteran suicide is post-traumatic stress disorder. Censoring PTSD and suicide risk in veterans, combat-related guilt is believed to be the most significant predictor of suicide attempts (Hudenko, Homaifar, & Wortzel, 2017). Some people fear to talk about suicide because they feel that mentioning it alone may make someone want to commit suicide. Well, this is not the case, the step towards conquering something lies it facing the reality that comes with it. Suicide does not solve problems, but rather creates more problems such as inducing worry and fear into those who care about a suicide victim. Another belief is that PTSD cannot be treated and that is is a permanent defect. The fact that PTSD can take longer to treat does not mean that it is permanent because when a PTSD victim is engaged the right way the problem can actually be solved (Hudenko, Homaifar, & Wortzel, 2017). Therefore, when a veteran is faced with an issue involving PTSD, all they need from those around them is patience and concern while undergoing treatment. Furthermore, more projects should be put in place to help reduce the rate of veteran suicide. According to (Kaplan et al., 2012), it is imperative to acknowledge the importance that suicide holds to military veterans. Also, the concern should be extended to persons that do not use VA health, and improvements made on study designs.

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Besides family members exacerbating the impacts of PTSD on veterans, they may also turn out to be secondary victims of the PTSD (Bahraini, Breshears, & Brenner, n.d). Living with someone who is suffering from PTSD cannot make you have PTSD because the defect is not contagious. However, you may end up suffering from vicarious or secondary traumatization which is much similar to PTSD. This means that the plight of veterans is also shared amongst their loved ones or those tasked with attending to them. Furthermore, supposing violence prevailed in a home prior to a veteran committing suicide, the family members are likely to become victims of PTSD as well  (Bahraini, Breshears, & Brenner, n.d). And what does this mean then? The traumatic event resulting as a vicarious traumatization can as well lead to suicide. Thus, we can conclude that veteran suicide is a contributing factor towards civilian suicide which makes the issue an extensive one. Further impacts of veteran suicide on survivors include shock, relief, sorrow, confusion, and guilt. That is, shock occurs as a result of a family member to a veteran not expecting the sudden change in the behavior of their hero (the veteran) as they expected more than sorrow from them. The sudden change in the behavior of a veteran will most likely bring about confusion to those closest to them, and when the veteran finally commits suicide, the family members are consumed with the guilt of not being able to help when they should have. Thus, war veterans can be a real burden to their family members when suffering from traumatic disorders of or when they become victims of suicide. It is, therefore, the duty of VA to come it and help out where they possibly can because the veteran suicide is not a war that can be won by just one party being involved.

Earlier in this discussion, we wondered whether the U.S. could be losing more military men through suicide than in combat, and sadly, this is true. A report by USA Today revealed that “War was the leading cause of death in the military nearly every year between 2004 and 2011 until suicides became the top means of dying for troops in 2012 and 2013, according to a bar chart published this week in a monthly Pentagon medical statistical analysis journal.” (Zoroya, 2014). Furthermore, PBS Newshour confirmed that more U.S. troops died by suicide than in Afghanistan combat in the year 2012 (PBS Newshour, 2013). Based on the Pentagon data, since 9/11, at least 6,800 troops have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and at least 3,000 additional service members have committed suicide within the same time-span. Thus, suicide has managed to surpass war as the leading cause of death among the military men and nothing could be more intriguing in the domain of veteran suicide.

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In conclusion, this study has successfully argued the rise in the rate of veteran suicide and discussed some of the steps that can be taken towards solving the problem. The study has presented proof of the rise in the rate of veteran suicide as well as those who are most affected and why. Each veteran suicide is a tragedy, and as much as the VA seems to take the issue seriously, they seem to be facing difficulties since they can only work with veterans who seek their help. Thus, identifying and solving the issue of veteran suicide concerns everyone who relates to the veterans in one way or another. Ending veteran suicide is a civic duty, and this makes the veteran suicide issue a public concern because, apparently, what affects veterans affects the nation at large. Veteran suicide in the United States of America is a rising issue and something should be done to help address the problem because veterans matter to us.

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  1. Bahraini, N., H., Breahears, R., E., & Brenner, L., A. (n.d).Providing Support for Suicide Survivors: Understanding Pertinent Military/Veteran Issues.
  2. Freking, K. (2016, July 7). 20 Vets Commit Suicide a Day, VA Says.
  3. Gibbons, R., D., Brown, C., H., & Hur, K. (2012, March). Is the Rate of Suicide Among Veterans Elevated? U.S. National Library of Medicine. 102(Suppl 1): S17–S19.
  4. Hudenko, W., Homaifar, B., & Wortzel, H. (2017, March 28). The Relationship Between PTSD and Suicide.
  5. Kaplan, M., S., McFarland, B., H., Huguet, N., & Newsom, J., T. (2012, March). Estimating the Risk of Suicide Among US Veterans: How Should We Proceed From Here? U.S. National Library of Medicine. 102(Suppl 1): S21–S23.
  6. Kenmill, C. (2017, July 28). 10 Aweful Things About the Army Nobody Tells You.
  7. Lickerman, A. (2010, April 29). The Six Reasons People Attempt Suicide.
  8. PBS Newshour. (2013, January 15). More U.S. Troops Died by Suicide Than in Afghanistan Combat in 2012.
  9. Philipps, D. (2016, July 7). Suicide Rate Among Veterans Has Risen Sharply Since 2001.
  10. Ramchand, R., Acosta, J., & Burns, R., M. (2011). The War Within: Preventing Suicide in the U.S. Military. California: Rand Corporation.
  11. Simon, R., I. & Hales, R., E. (2012). The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Suicide Assessment and Management. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Pub.
  12. Zoroya, G. (2014, October 31). Suicide surpassed war as the military’s leading cause of death.
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