Government and Regulations

Research Uncovers Gender Differences in Suicide Risk Among Veterans

Data from recent studies show a decreased risk of suicide among Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom male veterans, but the risk varied over time for female veterans of these wars.


In a 2015 study appearing in Annals of Epidemiology, VA associated researchers examined the risk of suicide among active-duty, National Guard, and Reserve veterans who were deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and were separated from duty between 2002 and 2011. Looking at the data of veterans who were 7 years past active-duty service, researchers found a difference in rates by gender. To approximate the suicide risk over time, researchers used a hazard rate, which calculates the deaths by suicide per 100,000 veterans alive for each year that they have been away from service.

Although researchers found the overall suicide risk to be higher among male veterans (1,491 suicides out of 1,237,049) than that for female veterans (62 out of 164,333), the percentage of suicides among males has been decreasing by 6.1%, on average, per year. The percentage of suicides for female veterans varied through the years with a hazard rate of 9.1 in the first year after service, 15.0 in the fourth year, and 9.9 in the seventh year.

Another 2015 study, also appearing in Annals of Epidemiology, showed rates of suicide differed in gender among deployed and nondeployed veterans during the same wars between 2001 and 2007. Researchers found out of 68 female and 1,582 male deployed deaths there were 15 deployed suicides among females and 336 suicides among males. The numbers for nondeployed suicides were higher than deployed suicides. Among 738 nondeployed female deaths, 109 were suicides, and of 6,965 nondeployed deaths among males, 1,408 were suicides.

To help decrease the suicide rate among veterans, the VA provides a Veterans Crisis Line to assist veterans and their families and friends. The crisis line is open 24/7 and can be reached by calling 1-800-8255, option 1, or by visiting

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