Veteran suicide is a critical public health concern for Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).
Today’s release of the Department’s third annual Veteran Suicide Mortality Study, a collaborative study with the Department of National Defence and Statistics Canada, aims to help VAC better understand the suicide trends over time and potential risk factors of Canadian Armed Forces Veterans. Evidence gathered in this report is consistent with earlier Veteran Suicide Mortality Study reports and similar to studies done internationally.
Key findings of the 2019 study show that, over the 39-year observation period, the risk of suicide for both male and female Veterans was higher than the Canadian general population.
This study is part of VAC’s Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy with the Department of National Defence. Findings from the study will help VAC and the Department of National Defence to build upon a strong foundation of programs, services and supports and will inform new services and supports to ensure the health and well-being of Canada’s serving members, Veterans and their families. Supported by research like the Veteran Suicide Mortality Study, the Strategy ultimately aims to help prevent Veteran suicide.
It’s crucial that Veterans know they will be looked after while transitioning to life after service and in the years that follow. The Department is committed to assisting Veterans in accessing the resources needed to support their health and well-being.
“Every Veteran we lose is a profound tragedy and we need to continue to do everything we can to prevent Veteran suicides. As part of that effort, the Veteran Suicide Mortality Study is an important tool in helping us better understand the complex and tragic reality of suicide within the Veteran community.”
Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
The risk of suicide for Veterans in the additional two years of data included in this year’s study (2013 and 2014) was consistent with previous time periods studied.
The observed risk of Veteran suicide has neither increased nor decreased over the 39-year period studied.
Consistent with past studies, younger male Veterans had the highest risk of suicide. Males under 25 years of age had a 2.5 times higher risk compared to males of the same age in the Canadian General Population.
The risk for women Veterans was relatively consistent across age groups.
Future Veteran Suicide Mortality Study reports will incorporate additional years of data as they become available, so the Department can continue to inform suicide prevention activities.
Veterans Affairs Canada offers many services and programs to support the mental health and well-being of Veterans and their families and to alleviate certain pressures through treatments and prevention.