Shocking PTSD, suicide rates for vets

Released: 
June 05, 2013

1 in 5 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with PTSD. And veterans account for 20 percent of U.S. suicides.

Yesterday an American soldier pled guilty to committing what the New York Times calls "the deadliest war crime" committed by a single soldier in the post 9/11 wars. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales said he couldn't find a good reason for his massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, and the case has brought fears about the psychological stresses placed on soldiers by repeat deployments and combat against insurgents back into the public eye. And it's definitely something that needs to be talked about - the numbers bear out a grim reality.

One in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – over 300,000 veterans by the end of 2012. The social and economic costs of PTSD are immense. First-year treatment alone costs the government $8,300 per person, or more than $2 billion so far. And suicides among active-duty military personnel averaged one per day in 2012. Veterans now account for 20 percent of suicides in the U.S., with the youngest (24 and under) taking their lives at four times the rate for other veteran age groups.

For more on this tragic set of facts, see our infographic – and please check out our “What Do Others Say?” section, especially if you’re a vet in need of help or know of one. We’ve included links to resources you can use. As always, join the discussion thread below. Do you think veterans get the proper level of re-entry help and support?