Vietnam War Suicide Statistics

The military refuses to come clean, insisting the high rates are due to “personal problems,” not experience in combat.
November 26, 2007 |
Earlier this year, using the clout that only major broadcast networks seem capable of mustering, CBS News contacted the governments of all 50 states requesting their official records of death by suicide going back 12 years. They heard back from 45 of the 50. From the mountains of gathered information, they sifted out the suicides of those Americans who had served in the armed forces. What they discovered is that in 2005 alone — and remember, this is just in 45 states — there were at least 6,256 veteran suicides, 120 every week for a year and an average of 17 every day.

As the widow of a Vietnam vet who killed himself after coming home, and as the author of a book for which I interviewed dozens of other women who had also lost husbands (or sons or fathers) to PTSD and suicide in the aftermath of the war in Vietnam, I am deeply grateful to CBS for undertaking this long overdue investigation. More…


Media Release – 7 August 2000

Today, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Hon Bruce Scott released the long-awaited report into the incidence of suicide in children of Vietnam Veterans. The report confirms that children of Vietnam veterans have three times the suicide rate of the general community.

The government responded in the May 2000 Budget after it was established in an earlier report released in December 1999 that rates of death by accident and suicide in children of Vietnam veterans were significantly elevated when compared with other Australians. The response included a 32.3 million dollar package over four years to expand existing programs and to provide additional support services mainly through the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service.

The National President of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, Mr Brian McKenzie said today, that veterans and their families should fully utilise those support services and programs available through the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. More…


Suicide and guilt as manifestations of PTSD in Vietnam combat veterans

H Hendin and AP Haas
Department of Psychiatry, New York Medical College, NY.

OBJECTIVE: Although studies have suggested a disproportionate rate of suicide among war veterans, particularly those with postservice psychiatric illness, there has been little systematic examination of the underlying reasons. This study aimed to identify factors predictive of suicide among Vietnam combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). METHOD: Of 187 veterans referred to the study through a Veterans Administration hospital, 100 were confirmed by means of a structured questionnaire and five clinical interviews as having had combat experience in Vietnam and as meeting the DSM-III criteria for PTSD. The analysis is based on these 100 cases. RESULTS: Nineteen of the 100 veterans had made a postservice suicide attempt, and 15 more had been preoccupied with suicide since the war. More…