The suicide rate increased nearly 44 percent for male veterans between the ages of 18-29 from 2009 to 2011 and more than 11 percent among female veterans, according to the data released by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday.
The rate of veterans’ suicide remained largely unchanged over that three-year period.
About 22 veterans a day take their own life, the department said.
Jan Kemp, VA’s National Mental Health Director for Suicide Prevention, called the numbers alarming, particularly for those in their early 20s.
She said too many younger veterans are going to the VA to get care for their physical wounds, but many don’t seek treatment for longer-term mental health issues as well.
“They really haven’t even been out long enough to maybe recognize they’re having longer-term issues with PTSD or with depression,” she said, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I think they’re still kind of in that invincible period. There’s somewhat of a culture out there within the military and within these young kids that they don’t need help and they should have all of the answers,” she was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Kemp said the pressures of leaving military careers, readjusting to civilian life and combat injuries like PTSD all play a role in the problems facing young male vets.