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:
- Find DIY help here.
- Find the list of FDA-approved therapies, click here.
- For drug-free PTSD abatement techniques, click here.
- For suicide prevention tips, click here.
- For the DoD Active Duty 2020 Q1 suicide report, click here.
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.
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.
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.
ADDITIONAL VA SUICIDE RATE REPORT HIGHLIGHTS:
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
GIVE TODAY. LET THEM KNOW YOU CARE. VETERAN FAMILIES DESERVE OUR 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.
This is great, but I know, having been one myself, that lots of veterans die at the hands of police. I didn’t die, luckely, but I was shot two times from behind by a police officer for contemplating suicide. Those are the types of stats that I would love to see reported. I know that is a big SPSS project, but I’d be willing to run the numbers if you provided the data.
Thank you for getting your story out. That’s another sad fact in all of this. To your request, I have no idea how to gather the sort of data you’re talking about, but my feeling is that, in the end, it’s gonna be just another bitter pill to swallow.
Stay strong. Stay in touch.
how many people care about veterans,,some time we need tohere say i care,like to those usmc veterans,it hurt when one of my brother& sisters fall
It seems that politicians care only when it helps them. I believe most regular American care alot about Vets, but feel there’s not much they can do. But there is. You can tell your friends about our mission and that will be something positive. Thanks for your comment.
SEMPER FI MARINE ! FROM A MOM OF A USMC SON WHO IS NOW A VET. YOU ARE SO RIGHT ON ABOUT HOW MANY PPL CARE FOR VETS. MY GUESS IS NOT ENOUGH. I LEARNED FROM MY SON THAT MARINES HAVE 2 FAMILIES, THE USMC’S & THEIR REAL ONES. I BELIEVE YOU ARE NOT TREATED RIGHT OR GIVEN THE BENEFIT’S YOU TOTALLY DESERVE, ALONG WITH RESPECT. MY SON HAS LOST MANY THAT HE WAS STATIONED WITH & DEPLOYED WITH TO SUICIDE. WHEN HE WENT IN THE DAY AFTER HIS 21ST B-DAY HE WAS DEPLOYED TO AFGHANISTAN. THE HELL HE LIVED THRU. THAT WAS BACK IN MAY 2009 THEN THEY HAD THE HELO RAID IN JUNE 2009. I NEVER FAULTED A DAY HE WAS IN THE MARINES THAT HE WOULD BE OK. WHEN HE GOT HOME FINALLY OUT. HE HAD/HAS SEVERE PTSD. SO ON THAT NOTE I WILL SAY THIS TO YOU I CARE ABOUT YOU AND ALL SERVICE MEMBERS. I WILL CONTINUE TO SAY PRAYERS FOR ALL OF YOU. YOUS ARE ALL BLESSINGS FOR STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE TO PROTECT OUR COUNTRY AND FREEDOM. THANK YOU SO MUCH. SEMPER FI FROM ONE MARINES MOM <3
I’m on this site because I am a Veteran and I want to do something to help. I’m launching a new venture as a DJ to help Veterans all over the world get to ZERO. I have recently talked to new friends that happen to be Veterans and one specifically asked to talk to me outside… I was taken back by his story. I gave him one phrase of advice. His response was … “Thank you…………. No one has ever said that to me”. That’s when I decided I CAN make a difference.
– DJ 11BRAVO
P.S. Check on him a couple days later and his response was that he was a lot better and thanked me for what I did for him.
Thanks for posting some good news for a change. Helping others is a very rewarding thing to do. Operation Zero is a great cause. I’d like to hear more about your cause and some details. Let us know.
KEN BACK AGAIN JUST WANTED TO SAY TO YOU STAY STRONG, KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND BE PROUD OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE. IF YOU ARE STILL IN THE MARINES KNOW THERE ARE ALOT OF PEOPLE THAT DO CARE, ESPECIALLY ONES THAT HAVE A CHILD IN THE MILITARY. IT BREAKS MY HEART THAT THE VA MEDICATES THESE VETS TO THE POINT THEY OVERDOSE INSTEAD OF TAKING A DIFFERENT APPROACH. I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN TO IMAGINE THE THINGS YOU HAVE SEEN. MY SON TOLD ME ALOT. SO I CAN INVISION SOME OF IT. PLEASE KEEP IN TOUCH AND LET US KNOW HOW YOU ARE. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR BACK FROM YOU. <3 VICKY
You were shot by the police two times because you were contemplating of taking your own life? That’s absurd! I had that very same thought in 2010. I was going to buy a Glock because my .25 caliber revolver might not do the job. Fortunately, the pawn shop had asked me to wait 3 days for background check. When they called, my wife answered the phone and knew that I suffered service connected PTSD. She called the VA Hotline. I was confined in a psychiatric hospital for 10 days. I’m sill being treated for PTSD but not compensated because my evidence (plane crash, injury sustained during one of my 60 parachute jumps was not strong enough. Still bitter as hell about it.
Thank you for your service. It is one of the many VA shames that your service-related injuries and their lack of connection to your current condition is not covered and corrected. It’s frustrating, I’m sure, but please keep it together. Hopefully in time the new treatments will get covered or come down in price.
I’m goin to talk about this and get out this information on my podcast to do my part for awareness, which I believe is the key to all of this and to help prevent some of this.
Hi Stan, Thanks for your comment. You should know that those Veteran suicide rates by state stats are dated, but probably still accurate. I had to remove your link as we don’t allow that. Dave
Thank you for bringing hope (accuracy) to me while cure is being search seriously by those who are given the power and responsibility to selflessly administer to us who needed the most. I honestly can see the future with chances to recover some of my loss strength and will to feel our paradise and ultimately even a day to experience what I thought will never be returned. Its an honor and I humbly share my survival as just to those who gave all for me… because they did believe something great awaits me down my life to be worth living even knowing the suffering that is worth to continue on. No words I can find to describe my gratefulness for this effort to provide the simple statiscal fact… thank you thank you.
That is the real deal, thanks for your comment. I’m committed to this cause and to people like you. Stay strong and stay in touch. Our futures are ours to make and together we’ll get the best out of it.
Seen as an inside observer of the medical community and also as a VA patient.
1. Parking lot suicides are done for two reasons . Veterans do not want their loved ones to find their bodies and know the VA will dispose of them. The other reason is that it is the final FU to a government which is so full of bureaucracy it has rendered itself useless. However, in all fairness, this trend has extended itself to the civilian sector as well for quite some time where medical care is a form of Russian Roulette. Some are lucky to escape without harm, others end up damaged or dead. The word is collateral damage in medical care.
2. Dropping the ball in delivering medical care to veterans and civilians is becoming the norm. Health care workers are undulated with so much paper work for documentation and rules they have to follow as guidelines for the delivery of each aspect of care, they are utilizing the time they used to spend of patient care to document each and every move they make. If a time and motion study was implemented it would amaze people to know that more then 90 per cent of their time is spend documenting and covering their asses. If you are a VA patient, the time you spend with your provide is less than a few minutes because the rest of the the the provide is looking at the computer screen, charting.
3. The patient has been considered the “consumer” in the medical field for over 20 years, whereby in civilian sectors they are called consumers. The word alone indicates that the patient has been placed on the Back 40, because the definition of consumer is purchaser, buyer, customer, shopper and patron. This enforces everything we read and know about medical care, it is a profit making organization and nothing more. The VA is blatant about their desire to make profit at the cost of the veterans who rely on their care. There are more and more job descriptions placed on each healthcare worker, and when there is a hiring freeze, they delegate the empty slots between the health care workers left, to carry the load, which frustrates and stresses them out because of work overload. The VA figures their health care providers and workers can function doing the workload of those they did not replace. The workers who are left trying their best to do their jobs, end up leaving, or are so overworked, the ball in medical care is dropped. The bottom line: profit.
Inasmuch as the VA is trying to curtail the numbers of suicides of their veterans, the task is equivalent to the war on drugs. A waste of time and money because the war on drugs was lost a long time ago and cost the tax payers more money than the fight was worth. One can not prevent intentional suicide. Impossible. Each case is different and each person is different. What goes through the human mind when the person reaches the final stage of ending his/her life can not be controlled.
Thank you for your time,
That is the most thoughtful comment I’ve read on here ever. Thank you for taking the time to share it with me and all the others who pass by here.
I wish I had the answer for so many questions posed here, but I know one thing: politicians aren’t going to do it, no matter what side they are on. I will continue to keep the fire burning on here and help how I can. With your comment, and all the heartfelt ones of everyone here, you keep me going, keep me determined.
Stay strong and stay in touch.
Awesome thank you for sharing!
Awesome content buddy, keep updating your site
Roger that and thank you.
I’m a Vet who is actually doing something about it. The effects of the lost Veterans. I’m a Vet with PTSD from outside of combat. I’ve felt a deep sense of service for years aiding my brothers and sisters in arms that a better life exists. It’s not impossible to over come those waves of hopelessness. I’ve started a nonprofit titled III Pillars For My Vets. The corp name is III PILLARS PTSD Network Inc. It’s entire design is to bring the vet to a working – authentic Ranch located in North Texas. A place for them to come and begin the road to restoration, reconciliation and hope. Those are the three pillars. It’s all surrounded by a Christ centered atmosphere with the opportunity for the veterans to restore that which was lost through war and the tragedy of war. An emphasis is also placed on the Vietnam Veteran. The Forgotten One. We are search for relief and peace in and through our lives not to forget our families. I’m not far from posting more information and details concerning this vision that has and is coming to pass. It’s such a large undertaking that without God in Christ it’s nearly impossible to comprehend or achieve. I know there is Hope for all who are weary and need their dignity, honor and self-esteem rebuilt one day at a time. This provision will be at no cost to the Vet. Their families will have resources available as well.
It’s the Karios. The appointed time
for such a place to exist for those who are willing. Thank you for having a forum to share.
Matthew 20:28; just has the Son of man didn’t come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
Thank you for your comment. Your ranch sounds like a great place and I’m glad to hear about the Vietnam Vets, they do seem to be the forgotten ones.
To help you get up and running, I’d suggest you look into the Google ad grant. If you have the financial means to hire an outside agency to help you, I can suggest one I use.
Oh how my heart breaks for all vets. I lost my son ( a very proud Iraqi Vet who had PTSD) November 29, 2016 and I can’t get over it. If only I knew he was contemplating suicide I would have done ANYTHING in this world for him. I knew of his physical pains and sickness but did not know he was thinking in this manner. Several trips to the VA in Florida did nothing for him. He was so proud of his service and we were all proud of him too. I miss him so much. If only I knew more about Vets with PTSD he could still be here. I hope others can use your information to help family members/veterans that really need comfort, love, hope and guidance. Thank you. Helen
You’re welcome. And thank you for sharing your son’s story with us. The face of those contemplating suicide is almost impossible to read. Many have posted how happy and “normal” their loved ones seemed in the days leading up to their suicide. I wish you peace as you deal with your loss. Please consider visiting https://onceasoldier.org/silver-lining-project-memorials/ to post your favorite memories of your son. It is our way of adding a silver lining to your darkness. Dave @OAS
I am a Navy Corpsman Retired I am approaching 60 and have experienced some of my Brothers committing suicide. I tried to suicide once but I feel like I am past that now. During that time I felt like there was nobody for me to go to, nobody that cared. My buddy just killed himself after deployment. I felt so angry and lost. I am filled with anger at a country that cares so little for their Vets. I am also filled with appreciation at organizations like Once a Soldier that cares so much and gives us a place to talk to those that care. I was a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman To the Marines out there Semper Fi, To all of My Brothers and Sisters stay strong
Thank you for writing your thoughts down. It means so much to me to hear from folks like you. I, too, am rather pissed off at the “marketing” of veterans versus the reality. Stay strong and know that you can always reach out to talk to us here. Dave @OAS
I am a female Air Force nurse. I lost my spouse and 4 sons who were killed in action. I have one remaining son who is in the Marines. I suffered with severe depression after death of my spouse and sons. I have been deployed so many times but yet non military people say your are a nurse you should be able to handle anything. I am a human first. I was a wife and mother and being a military nurse is last. I work in war zones and still cry and get close to all my military family who get injured or die. I have been in military 28 years have no plans on retiring anytime soon. If I can help one solider from committing suicide than I have done what I was put here for. Sometimes it takes only giving a listening ear. We as humans need to help each other. Sometimes the soldiers help us nurses out by listening to us vent. God bless all those who are serving and to those who have served. To MY FALLEN HEROES WEATHER KIA OR SUICIDE I WILL SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE. PEOPLE WAKE UP. WE HAVE EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS.
Thank you for that amazing perspective. It opened my eyes in a new way regarding the misconception that people have of military personnel, and I think you’re right. Your sacrifice for our country demands we listen. What were you looking for that we did or didn’t provide? Your input is will help others. Thanks again for sharing your POV.
Hi, Sherry. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and thank you and your family for your dedicated service. I am a registered nurse in Tennessee and have just began my pursuit in obtaining a doctorate in nursing practice. With a desire to aid in suicide prevention and increase the quality of life and mental health of our service men and women, I am interested in studying suicide/suicide ideation among veterans and active duty soldiers. I would love to hear your perspective on this topic or to learn of existing needs among this population that you have identified. Thank you, again.
I’m a Viet Nam “era” Veteran….I did not serve in combat but rather served 4 years in the Air Force in a non-combat role; but as a Patriot Guard Rider and an American Legion rider, I’ve seen too many funerals and too many suicides. I’m also a retired clinical social worker and believe we need to do more than what’s been done so far. I want to design and distribute a patch for bikers to wear on their vests highlighting the Suicide Prevention phone number that no one seems to be able to remember (800-273-TALK (8255) . I want to see it everywhere so my brothers and sisters know there are people who want to help and who care. I have no creative skills so I’m looking for someone to design a patch that can be sewn on to biker’s vests; that can become a sticker for every possible surface; that can help our brothers and sisters get the help they need to stop fighting the wars in which they served. Please help pass this on to creative people. You don’t need me to do this. do it in your own communities, but if you wan to create a national design, I’m happy to help get it distributed. THANK YOU!
I agree and I like the line you wrote about our Vets “get the help they need to stop fighting the wars in which they served.” That really gets to the heart of it. As far as the patch goes, I’m not 100% sure what you’re asking at the end about the patch, but it’s a great idea. I can turn you on to a website called Fiverr.com. It filled with designers, mostly overseas from India and the Middle East, but there are some Americans. Anyway, it’s called Fiverr for a reason – for five bucks you can get some designs. Write me back here or email me via the site contact page and we’ll see what’s next. Thanks for your comment again. Dave
Most of the Veterans committing suicide are older Vietnam Veterans driven to suicide by the VA. I have documented fifty (50) years of VA corruption. For fifty years I have fought for Veterans Rights. I provided evidence of six Disabled Veterans driven to suicide by the VA in Lexington, Kentucky. The VA Inspector General covered it up, the FBI wouldn’t investigate, and the Justice Department also covered it up.
Thousands of Veterans that commit suicide bring their VA Records to the VA to prove they are being abused by the VA, and they leave a note, a Dying Declaration blaming corruption in the VA for their death, and yet NONE of those thousands of suicides are ever investigated because the VA covers everything up. Please check out my website http://www.VetsForJustice dot com. The VA has set up a few programs for suicide to deceive the public into thinking the VA cares, however if the VA really cared they would stop cheating Disabled Veterans, stop falsifying VA Records to cheat Veterans, stop their habitual lying, AND START BEING HONEST ON VA CLAIMS!
That will never happen. Despite the recent VA Suicide Prevention Programs the VA really wants you dead.
Dead Veterans don’t cost the VA anything.
You are correct, Mr Kidwell, most of veteran suicides are Vietnam veterans. The VA has failed all of them who’ve killed themselves I would say, but the days of blaming the VA are over. The VA is overmatched, but we the people need to take care of our own. Relying on a dysfunctional system for help is just as sick as those who need it. While there’s not much else out there, despite recent Presidential boasting, we need grassroots answers, support and help for our Vietnam veterans.
A copy of my letter to the National Commander of the American Legion:
Dear Commander Oxford:
While the legion can count the many lives it touched and the thousands of veterans and families it has helped, we still count 20 veterans a day lost to suicide. The Commander of the Department of Indiana tells me that the Legion has found success by not dictating programs or actions to the local Legion Posts but by giving information to the Local commanders and letting the Posts act for themselves, relying upon their own resources and discretion. In many cases this technique results in a Chinese Fire Drill, much activity, little success.
The problem of suicide is not one to be left to chance. Its causes run deep and affect many more people that the veterans themselves. We must be active in identifying the needs of these men and women and interdicting into the behaviors that accompany suicide. The use of companion and service dogs is a well establish method of doing this. What is needed is a program, like the Buddy Check program, to identify the veteran and then a source for trained dogs and funding. This can be done at the local level and need not involve huge expenditures and long waiting lists. It also needs an informed leadership which loudly voices the problem, publishes information about successful efforts, and follows through with public information to the Posts. Twenty veterans a day makes this a crisis. Please lead us and the Legion toward a reduction of this significant problem. You can do it; take the lead and start now.
Surely the Leadership of the American Legion has a conscience. “Our conscience takes no notice of pain inflicted on others until it reaches a point where it gives pain to us. In all cases without exception we are absolutely indifferent to another person’s pain until his sufferings make us uncomfortable.” – Mark Twain. It is time to get uncomfortable.
Donald Craig, Jr.
Thank you for your comment and your initiative in writing the letters. We need more action, less head-scratching on this issue. Thanks again.
What would you say is the national daily average for Veteran suicides relating to PTSD, and could you perhaps supply a resource for this information?
Hi Philip Lee,
I would say of the 17 Veteran suicides a day, 10 are PTSD-driven. I have no hard data, but talking to our families, PTSD was the deciding factor. The other usual suspects to round out the daily number would be depression, pill abuse and/or a combination of all three.
What do you think?
Hi I’m not sure this is the forum I can use for my question, but I need a starting point and hope somebody can help me. My son Corey took his life in 2016, we had no clues but I begged him to get help. I have wanted to do something to bring awareness to Soldier Suicide. I have decided how I can do that in my small business to bring the awareness up and all proceeds would go to a Soldier Suicide foundation to help. I want to feature all our soldiers, I just don’t know how to get the info, pics and clear it with families. Any ideas that can help me do this?
Sorry to hear about your son Corey. Doing something pro-active and positive is a great idea. As far as getting info, pics and clearances, that is difficult. We use stories and images with permission from the families that have come to us, so we have that relationship. For you, I’m not sure what your vision is for your awareness efforts, but your most powerful story is yours and Corey’s. I would start with that if that makes sense.
Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to continue the conversation privately. Also, we would love to be considered as a benefactor for the proceeds if that fits into your agenda. Many Veteran families need our help.
Good luck in any event.
My daughter Deseray, 30 years young, was killed by a distracted driver on April 9th, 2019.
She was a proud Marine. She was in Orlando Florida starting her first day at Tech school. Walking back to meet up with new class members and was killed, she was an organ donor she helped total strangers by her organ donation. Eight families in all.
I grieve each day about our loss but my comfort is knowing her passing saved lives she would be proud of that. My way to honor her was to start a Non Profit the Deseray Smith Foundation that helps people struggling with Mental health issues we pay for their mental health appointments. The Deseray Smith Foundation is proud to help those in need.
Deseray sounds like a special daughter and one that you still love very much.
Three years ago, at my VFW Post 9190 I met a fellow Marine that had recently retired after 20 years of Service. Though I was a generation older than he. We became very good friends. We did not speak everyday but played in Dart Tournaments at American Legion Post 655 and our VFW Post three nights a week. Yesterday his life became to much for him to bare. It has been my honor to call you friend. With every dart game, every shot of whiskey I will salute you.
Daniel, thank you for letting us know about your friend and your loss. Keep saluting him.