Study finds female veterans are three times more likely to commit suicide

A new study finds the rate of suicide among veterans to be much higher than throughout the general population.
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After compiling data from the National Health Interview Survey and the National Death Index, the study concluded that male veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide than nonveterans, and females with U.S. military service are three times as likely.

The study used recent data from 2004-2007 from 5,948 women who "completed suicide in the 16 states that constitute the National Violent Death Reporting System." The women were then divided into three age groups: 18-34, 35-44, and 45-65.

Though the findings show the instance of suicide decreased as age increased, the greatest presence of self-inflicted death across the board was among veterans. This "veterans only" group represented the largest number of suicides by far, followed - by a wide margin - by "veterans, plus active duty, National Guard and reserve service members," and finally "nonveterans."

Based on these statistics, the researchers concluded their report by saying that the findings "suggest a hidden epidemic of suicide among younger women in the military service."

While Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may be to blame for many of these deaths, we can't help but wonder about the impact of sexual assault against women - both reported and unreported - that is known to take place in the military. To suggest that only women are victims of rape is wrong, but the following numbers make it hard to ignore sexual abuse as a potential cause for these incredibly high numbers of suicide amongst female veterans.

According to Jezebel:

"There was the 2003 survey in which 30 percent of female veterans said they were raped while in the military. A Pentagon report released last year found that more than 2,900 sexual assaults were reported the previous year, a rise of 9 percent. The year before that, 2007, only 181 prosecutions resulted from the 2,200 servicemen who were investigated for sexual assault."

Furthermore, a 2004 survey of veterans who were seeking help for PTSD found that "71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while serving."

An "epidemic" indeed.

Related Links:
Veterans Suicide Rate Alarming
Never Ignore the Symptoms of Depression and Suicide
6 Surprising Signs of Depression
Is she asking for it? Cracks in the rape shields law
How I escaped my rapist