Military Service Members and Veterans

Suicide is an important problem affecting military service members and veterans. The military services include an Active Component (Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy) and a Reserve Component. Estimates from the U.S. Department of Defense suggest that although suicide rates vary across these groups, they remain higher than they were in 2003.1

Among veterans, the suicide rate appears to have stabilized in recent years.2 But this rate remains unacceptably high. Recent estimates suggest that 22 veterans may die by suicide each day.2

To address this serious problem, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have put into place comprehensive suicide prevention programs.

Risk and Protective Factors

Suicide prevention efforts seek to reduce risk factors for suicide and strengthen the factors that help strengthen individuals and protect them from suicide. Here are a few examples:

Risk factors

  • Mood and anxiety disorders
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Prior suicide attempt
  • Stressful situations (e.g., childhood trauma, relationship problems, legal issues, financial troubles)
  • Physical health problems

Protective factors


  1. U.S. Department of Defense. (2015). DoDSER Department of Defense Suicide Event Report: Calendar Year 2014 Annual Report. Retrieved from:
  2. Kemp J., Bossarte, R. (2012). Suicide data report, 2012: Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services Suicide Prevention Program. Retrieved from

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