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Why Are So Many Veterans Taking Their Own Lives?

From the Show: Staying Well
Summary: During the time of a recent study published in The Annals of Epidemiology, there was at least one veteran who committed suicide each day.
Air Date: 4/13/15
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Michael Schoenbaum, PhD
Michael SchoenbaumMichael Schoenbaum (PhD in Economics, University of Michigan, 1995) is Senior Advisor for Mental Health Services, Epidemiology, and Economics at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Dr. Schoenbaum's work focuses particularly on the benefits and costs of interventions to improve health and health care, evaluated from the perspectives of patients, providers, payers and society. He is a scientific principal in NIMH's Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service members (http://armystarrs.org/), a study of risk and protective factors for suicidality in the US Army.
Why Are So Many Veterans Taking Their Own Lives?
Putting your own life at risk for the freedom and protection of millions of other lives is one of the most selfless and courageous gestures a person could make.

However, it seems like every day there's an article featuring yet another veteran who has taken his or her life after returning home from overseas. Does this mean there's a flaw within America's healthcare system and how returning soldiers are being taken care of?

Veteran's suicide has been one of the most controversial topics that doctors, researchers and families of veterans have been discussing for many years.

In fact, a recent study published in the February issue of the Annals of Epidemiology highlighted this issue. Thousands of military personnel's lives have been taken due to suicide.

The study looked at all 1,282,074 veterans who served in active duty units between 2001-2007 and who also left the military during that time period. Researchers matched military records with the National Death Index, which collects data on all the deaths that occur within the U.S. Researchers tracked the veterans after service until the end of 2009.

Researchers found a total of 1,868 suicides, which compares to an annual suicide rate of 29.5 per 100,000 veterans (approximately 50 percent higher). During the time of this study, there was at least one veteran who committed suicide each day.

This past February, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which is aimed to reduce the amount of suicides among returning veterans and help improve their access to mental health care.

Is it possible to reduce military suicides?

If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please don't hesitate to reach out for help to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1.800.273.8255. You are not alone.

In this segment, Michael Schoenbaum, PhD, shares a compelling study on the lives of veterans returning home from serving, as well as why so many of them might be turning to suicide.
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