Suicide among Veterans is at a crisis level. Though we’ve come a long way in learning how to recognize the signs and what to do to help, we need to step up the effort to integrate suicide prevention practices within post-service culture, connect those in need to life-saving resources, and improve access to mental health care.
The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation collaborates with the Ohio Army National Guard, the Ohio Governor’s Challenge Team, OhioCares, the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and veteran-related community partners to help bridge the gap between individuals serving in the military and those having left military service, while striving to educate, advocate, and connect them with the necessary resources to facilitate their mental health needs.
In 2020, there were 6,146 veteran suicides in the US, which averages to 16.8 veterans dying by suicide every day.
In 2020, 230 Ohio veterans died by suicide, and 101 were between the ages of 55-74.
Between 2001 and 2020, the prevalence of mental health or substance use disorder (SUD) among participants using Veterans Health Administration (VHA) rose from 27.9% to 41.9%.
Comparing the rate among women veterans to non-veteran adult women, the rate is 2.5 times higher.
Between 2001 and 2020, the suicide rate among veterans between the ages of 18 and 34 increased by 95.3%. During that same period, the suicide rate among veterans between the ages of 55 and 74 rose 58.2%.
Firearms are the primary lethal means for 76.1% of veteran suicides in Ohio.
Previous suicide attempt
History of depression and other mental illness
Serious illness such as chronic pain or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), service or non-service connected
Job/financial problems or loss
Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
Loss of relationships
Sense of hopelessness
Recent separation from military service (ETS, medical, or retirement)
Stress related to OPTEMPO
Deployments during military service, e.g., Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)
Existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD related to service (regardless of deployment status)
Expressing hopelessness, despair, anger, or rage
Appearing sad or depressed most of the time
Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep
Neglecting personal wellbeing
Not engaged during National Guard or Reserves (IDT/UTA/AT) training
Withdrawing from family and friends
Losing interest in day-to-day activities
Frequent and dramatic mood changes
Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame
Feelings of failure or decreased performance at work, home, or other daily activities
Feeling like there’s no reason to live
Increased alcohol or substance use
Talking about death, saying goodbye, or giving away possessions
Life Side Ohio is a campaign of direct, suicide prevention outreach dedicated to the firearms community.