iStock_000001809500SmallSuicide rates have been rising in the US since the new millennium. US military Veterans have been more likely to die of suicide than the civilian US population. In 2019, over 6,000 US military Veterans died by suicide, representing 13.7% of all deaths by suicide among US adults, despite representing <7% of the total US adult population.

As a result, suicide prevention is the top clinical priority at the Veterans Healthcare Administration. Hope is offered by the fact that recent years have begun to witness a decline suicides, both by Veterans and their civilian counterparts. These decreases coincide with an unprecedented amount of research and system-wide effects to address the problem. The reasons for the reduction are still being understood and some racial/ethnic groups continued to experience increased rates, despite the overall recent decreases. The need for continued research, special programs, and healthcare system-wide initiatives is clear. Researchers at VA New Jersey have randomized clinical trials in various stages of completion examining treatment approaches for individuals suffering with the despair that leads to suicide. VA New Jersey researchers are also studying objective indicators of cognitive functioning that can be used to assess and detect when individuals are at increased risk of suicide, and help explain the thinking changes that lead individual to make a suicide attempt.

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