Arizona Veterans Suicide Rate Double That Of Civilians

September 03, 2013

The rate of suicide among military veterans in Arizona is more than double the civilian rate. Advocates say veterans need more than benefits when returning from war.The average veteran suicide rate in Arizona from 2005 through 2011 is almost 43 deaths per 100,000 people. That’s according to data compiled by News21, a national reporting project based out of Arizona State University. And the rate should increase as more veterans return home.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs gives disability and college education benefits to veterans, but Thomas O’Donnell said a support system is lacking. He works with student veterans at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. The school specializes in suicide research.

"I think a lot has to do with the fact that these veterans that are coming back now from battle have seen the worst of the worst. They're suffering, many, from PTSD. They've seen their buddies blown apart, they're having a hard time coping," O'Donnell said.

O’Donnell said communities, colleges and the VA need to do more to address issues like PTSD and homelessness, which may lead to suicide.

"I think that as more veterans come home we need to provide more and more resources, we're not providing enough right now, so it's actually going to get worse until these resources are in place," O'Donnell said.

According to a February 2013 VA study, a veteran commits suicide in the United States every 65 minutes.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The News21 data was compiled by Jeff Hargarten, Forrest Burnson, Bonnie Campo, Chase Cook and Greg Kohn.