Veteran Resources for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Rates

According to the Washington State Department of Health, in Washington 79% of Veterans receive care from community providers; only 21 % receive healthcare from a VA Medical Center. 22% of U.S. deaths from suicide are Veterans. Almost 70% of male VHA suicide deaths are by firearms where 35% are for females. 950 suicide attempts per month among Veterans receiving VA healthcare services while 33% of recent suicides have a history of previous attempts.

Warning Signs

The Washington state department of health, in their Operation S.A.V.E. information, notes several warning signs Veterans might experience leading to suicidal ideation:

  • Loss of sense of belonging or identity
  • Loss or change of job
  • Unresolved Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Recent deployment
  • Difficulty reintegrating into family after deployment
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Lack of access to old support network, such as military team
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Rage or anger
  • Hopelessness, feeling like there's no way out
  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
  • Engaging in risky activities without thinking
  • Feeling like there's no reason to live
  • Access to guns


Women Veterans

The Veteran's Administration acknowledges that:

"Every Veteran suicide is a tragic outcome. Regardless of the numbers or rates, one Veteran suicide is too many. VA is leading national efforts to understand suicide risk factors, develop evidence-based intervention strategies, and proactively identify and care for Veterans who are in crisis or at risk for suicide. Women comprise the fastest growing Veteran subpopulation, and VA is committed to improving their health and well-being, which includes addressing suicide and suicidal behaviors. This fact sheet summarizes what is known about suicide among women Veterans and highlights national resources available to assist women Veterans who are in crisis or at risk for suicide. A more general fact sheet on suicide among all Veterans is also available."

There are resource for women veterans that should be used when helping a Veteran understand either transitioning out of the military or with mental health. 

Indigenous Veterans

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Indian Health Service is the Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives. According to information listed on that agency's webpage "service to the community and the nation are important Native traditions; American Indian and Alaska Native people serve at a higher rate than other groups. Upon returning to civilian life, many veterans suffer from depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If left untreated, veterans experiencing mental health issues may think about or attempt suicide."

Some resources available for indigenous veterans sponsored by this agency included Native American Veterans Storytelling for Healing.


Veterans can consider these military cultural values when thinking about the kind of support they are receiving from friends and family. These are positive attributes but can negatively contribute to feelings of isolation.

  • The Warrior ideal: No matter what branch of service, Veterans are taught service comes before self and the mission comes first.
  • Feeling like they cannot live up to the Warrior ideal can lead to Veterans feeling like failures.
  • Being in the military provides a sense of purpose and identity that veterans might not have in their civilian lives.
  • Missing one's battle buddies/team, not having a mission, and failure to live up to the values and ideals of the military can cause one to feel isolated and inadequate.
  • Being out of the military often takes away the support system that helps to justify actions in combat.

Self-care could include thinking about yourself and how you feel about each of these cultural values. 

How to Help a Friend

If you are a Veteran in crisis—or you’re concerned about one—free, confidential support is available 24/7. Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1 (800) 273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online. 

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