Invited Commentary

Commentary on "VHA Chaplaincy Contact with Veterans at Increased Risk of Suicide"

Authors: Ryan D. Aycock, MD, MS


As America’s wars overseas wind down, military veterans are faced with stressors beyond those of combat dangers. Depression, substance abuse, and posttraumatic stress disorder contribute to the increasing rate of suicide among veterans. According to the data, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States.1 Suicidality disproportionately affects veterans more than other US citizens to the degree that 917% of the country’s suicides are committed by former service members.2

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1. Kemp J, Bossarte R. Suicide data report, 2012. Published 2012. Accessed June 14, 2014.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). Accessed June 14, 2014.
3. Nieuwsma JA, Rhodes JE, Jackson GL, et al. Chaplaincy and mental health in the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense. J Health Care Chaplain 2013;19:3-21.
4. Kopacz MS, McCarten JM, Pollitt MJ. VHA chaplaincy contact with veterans at increased risk of suicide. South Med J 2014;107:661-664.
5. Greenawalt DS, Tsan JY, Kimbrel NA, et al. Mental health treatment involvement and religious coping among African American, Hispanic, and white veterans of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Depress Res Treat 2011;2011:192186.