More American military veterans have been committing suicide than US soldiers have been dying in Iraq, it was claimed yesterday.
At least 6,256 US veterans took their lives in 2005, at an average of 17 a day, according to figures broadcast last night. Former servicemen are more than twice as likely than the rest of the population to commit suicide.
Such statistics compare to the total of 3,863 American military deaths in Iraq since the invasion in 2003 – an average of 2.4 a day, according to the website ICasualties.org.
The rate of suicides among veterans prompted claims that the US was suffering from a “mental health epidemic” – often linked to post-traumatic stress.
CBS News claimed that the figures represented the first attempt to conduct a nationwide count of veteran suicides. The tally was reached by collating suicide data from individual states for both veterans and the general population from 1995.
The suicide rate among Americans as a whole was 8.9 per 100,000, but the level among veterans was at least 18.7. That figure rose to a minimum of 22.9 among veterans aged 20 to 24 – almost four times the nonveteran average for people of the same age.