2019 VA Report Cements Soldier Suicide as Veteran Suicide

2019 VA Report Cements Soldier Suicide as Veteran Suicide

Annual Report Removes Active Duty Deaths – Lowers Fatalities to 17 a Day

Focus Now Sharpens on the Families

For years, National Veteran Suicide Prevention reports have cited that 20+ veterans commit suicide each day, spurring widely known social media campaigns to raise awareness on the devastating statistic. In 2019’s Annual Report, released on September 19th, the Department of Veterans Affairs excludes active duty service members in the count. Reporting by the VA now only includes those defined as a veteran under Title 38; a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.


Each Death Affects 135 Surviving Individuals – That’s 8 Million Annually

The numbers for veterans are still disparaging, showing that suicides continue to rise amongst those who fought for our freedom. According to their data, 6,139 Veterans died by suicide in 2017, increasing X% from 5,787 in 2005. This also brings the average of suicides of veterans, no longer including active service members, from 15.9 each day in 2005 to 16.8 each day in 2017. The most staggering figure is that 60,000 veterans have taken their own lives in the last decade, with each death estimated to affect 135 surviving individuals. That’s over 8 million lives affected by veteran suicide in the last 10 years. 

Others note that the data released specific to active-duty troops, while making up a lesser percentage of the overall suicide rate, is also alarming considering the suicide rate for troops jumped 13% in 2018. The overall number rose 34% percent between 2013 and 2018, citing what the VA calls a “national public health concern that affects people everywhere.”  While the daily total of suicides between veterans and active-duty troops remains around 20 per day, the rates climb year over year. One thing is clear, Veterans continue to be at an increased risk to suicide compared to the total U.S. Population. 

Now that separate reporting is released, we have a more complete picture of where suicide takes place during the journey from civilian, to active duty, to veteran. Having a more clear picture will hopefully drive researchers and decision makers to better mental health practices and intervention for the men and women in this country who continue to fight even after leaving the war zones. We know these numbers are dismal, but at Once a Soldier, our work starts once all hope appears to be lost. You can take part in this important work by contributing to our support programs for families who’ve been left behind.


Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans. The emotional toll is incalculable.  We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

Veteran Suicide Rates by State

Veteran Suicide Rates by State

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Report –
Veteran Suicide Rates by State

From 22 Veteran suicides a day in 2016 to 17 a day in 2019, the trend is improving but more can be done.  View the landmark VA report and annual reports since then, as well as a state-by-state breakdown of Veteran suicides in detail.

State information compiled and sourced from the 2016 Veterans Administration landmark soldier suicide report.

View the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report here.

View the 2021 VA Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report here.

PTSD is what kills our Vets. If you need help with PTSD:

once a soldier charity

Before you download this free PDF, all we ask is to keep our families in mind now and again by signing up for our quarterly updates.

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State Listed Alphabetically

Review the Updated Report from the Department of Defense

Issued by the Department of Defense, this state-by-state report is part of a larger VA report called “The Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (OMHSP) National Suicide Data Report”. It was recently updated in June 2018. The biggest update was that the number of suicides a day was reduced from 22 to 20.6 suicides every day. 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active-duty service members, guardsmen, and reservists.

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About the Suicide Data Sheets by State Report

In addition to shining a light on veteran suicide, the high numbers published in the report created a greater sense of urgency to attack the problem.

Included in the VA’s Mental Health Suicide Prevention report:

  • Texas and Florida both lost 530 veterans to suicide – the most in the country
  • Hawaii, Rhode Island and North Dakota suffering the least
  • Older veterans aged 55 -74 killed themselves the most
  • 70% of vets killed themselves with a firearm

To download the 2016 State Data Excel file and see just the statistics, click here. 



Findings show there is variability across the nation in the rates and numbers of deaths by suicide among Veterans. Overall, the Veteran rates mirror those of the general population in the geographic region, with the highest rates in Western states. While we see higher rates of suicide in some states with smaller populations, most Veteran suicides are still in the heaviest populated areas.

  • The suicide rate among middle-age and older adult Veterans remains high.
  • In 2014, approximately 65 percent of all Veterans who died by suicide were age 50 or older.
  • After adjusting for differences in age and sex, risk for suicide was 22 percent higher among Veterans when compared to U.S. non-Veteran adults.
  • After adjusting for differences in age, risk for suicide was 19 percent higher among male Veterans when compared to U.S. non-Veteran adult men.
  • After adjusting for differences in age, risk for suicide was 2.5 times higher among female Veterans when compared to U.S. non-Veteran adult women.


ABOUT THE UPDATED 9-2018 OMHSP National Suicide Data Report 2005-2016

  • Data compilation for the research study started in 2005 and ended in 2014.
  • After two years of compiling, the report came out in 2016.
  • Despite the grave numbers, suicide rates among veterans is only 1.5X higher than the national average of non-veterans.
  • The crisis has gained prominence because veteran healthcare and funeral benefits don’t reflect their service and/or their family’s sacrifice. In addition, the reports biggest news:
  • The biggest group of soldier suicides comes from older vets, aged 50 and above.
  • They’re mostly living in the western part of the USA.
  • They are the more likely to commit suicide due to PTSD and poor VA assistance.
  • They have little money to pay for their own funerals or have VA benefits to cover it.

However, the biggest eye-opener from the report was a quote from then VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin, who said: “We know that of the 20 suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 are not under VA care. This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach.”

Once a Soldier knew there was a big need and no one to fill it. This became our mission.

How You Can Help


Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text to 838255.

We Don't Lift Their Burden. You Do.


Your support means more than a paid funeral bill. Your support means they’re not forgotten.