DAV is disheartened to learn of the 1.8% increase in veteran suicides from 2020 to 2021 after seeing a drop each of the two years prior. Particularly alarming is that the suicide rate among women veterans jumped 24.1%—far greater than the 6.3% increase among male veterans. Equally distressing is that firearms were used by women more often than all other methods combined, and the rate of women veterans dying by firearm suicide was nearly three times higher than for non-veteran women. These grim statistics should not only serve as a wakeup call for the need to pay equal attention to the risk of firearm suicide for women veterans as we do for men, but they also underscore the need for incorporation of VA lethal means safety counseling and strengthening of safe storage programming, especially during periods of crisis.
VA mental health care cannot be the only part of the answer on how to end veteran suicide. We must work together in an all-of-nation effort with community-based and clinically-based prevention strategies to end this tragic epidemic. Our nation’s veterans and their families deserve nothing less.
Nancy G. Espinosa
DAV National Commander