Tags: Veterans | veterans | women | military | suicide

Suicide Rates Among Female Vets 'Obscenely High': Report

By Melanie Batley   |   Thursday, 11 Jun 2015 01:43 PM

The suicide rate of female military veterans is nearly six times the rate of other women, new government research shows.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the suicide rate is so high that one expert described it as "staggering."

"We have to come to grips with why the rates are so obscenely high," Dr. Matthew Miller, an epidemiologist and suicide expert at Northeastern University, told the Times.

To date, most research on suicide in the military was focused on men who account for more than 90 percent of the country's 22 million former troops.

The rates of female suicide are highest among young veterans, according to research by the Veterans Affairs Department which covered 11 years of data. Specifically, for women ages 18 to 29, veterans kill themselves at nearly 12 times the rate of nonveterans.

For every other age group, veteran rates of suicide are between four and eight times higher than nonveterans.

The Times said it is unclear what is driving the rates, but researchers and experts who reviewed the data said there could be multiple reasons, for example, that the military disproportionately draws women at higher suicide risk.

Sexual assault or other traumas experienced while in service could also be a cause. The Pentagon has estimated that 10 percent of women in the military have been raped while serving, and another 13 percent experienced unwanted sexual contact.

"We've been missing something that now we can see," Michael Schoenbaum, an epidemiologist and military suicide research at the National Institute of Mental Health, told the Times.

Unlike 34 percent of nonveteran women who commit suicide, female veterans have a 40 percent rate of committing suicide using a gun.

Researchers also looked at the backgrounds of women who join the military. One expert pointed out that men and women who join the military are more likely to have endured difficult childhoods, including emotional and sexual abuse.

Other studies have found that, before enlistment, Army personnel have elevated rates of suicidal thinking, attempts, and various mental health problems, the Times said.

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The suicide rate of female military veterans is nearly six times the rate of other women, new government research shows. According to the Los Angeles Times, the suicide rate is so high that one expert described it as "staggering."
veterans, women, military, suicide
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2015-43-11
 

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