Military veterans are particularly vulnerable to suicide compared with their civilian peers. Scant attention has been devoted to the problem of firearm suicide among veterans, particularly women. The purpose of this study was to examine the rate, prevalence, and relative odds of firearm use among veteran suicide decedents in the general population.
The analyses are based on data derived from 28,534 suicide decedents from the 2003 to 2006 National Violent Death Reporting System.
Across the age groups, male and female veterans had higher firearm suicide rates than nonveterans. Among males and females, younger veterans (18-34 years) had the highest firearm and total suicide rates. The male and female veteran suicide decedents were, respectively, 1.3 and 1.6 times more likely to use firearms relative to nonveterans after adjusting for age, marital status, race, and region of residence.
Although violent death and the use of firearms are generally associated with men, the results reported here suggest that firearms among female veterans deserve particular attention among health professionals within and outside the veterans affairs system. In addition, the focus should not be exclusively on the Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom military cohort but also on men and women who served in earlier combat theaters, including the Gulf war, Vietnam Era, Korean Conflict, and World War II.