6,500 former military personnel killed themselves in 2012. More veterans succumbed to suicide than were killed in Iraq. In 2012, 177 active-duty soldiers committed suicide, conversely 176 soldiers were killed in combat. In other words, more soldiers committed suicide compared to being killed in action. In 2012, the study concluded that Army had the highest number of suicides compared to any other service branch.
In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were committing suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes. Some sources suggest that this rate may be undercounting suicides. A recent analysis found a suicide rate among veterans of about 30 per 100,000 population per year, compared with the civilian rate of 14 per 100,000. However, the comparison was not adjusted for age and sex.
A study published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine found that, Veterans are not only more likely to have suicidal ideation, often associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, but they are more likely to act on a suicidal plan. Especially since veterans may be less likely to seek help from a mental health professional, non-mental-health physicians are in a key position to screen for PTSD, depression and suicidal ideation in these patients.
The same study also found that in veterans with PTSD related to combat experience, combat-related guilt may be a significant predictor of suicidal ideation and attempts.
Craig Bryan of the University of Utah National Center for Veterans Studies said that veterans have the same risk factors for suicide as the general population, including feelings of depression, hopelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder, a history of trauma, and access to firearms.