Colorado veteran suicide rate higher than national average


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Suicide among U.S. military veterans reached record numbers in Colorado last year, with more than one former service member dying by suicide every week, a new report said.

A 2020 National Veteran Suicide Prevention report from the Department of Veterans Affairs said Colorado’s rate was “significantly higher” than the national rate, The Gazette reported Saturday.

Colorado recorded 43 deaths by suicide of male and female veterans per 100,000 in 2019, compared with 32 deaths nationally per 100,000 in 2018, the most current year for national statistics.

The 217 veteran suicide deaths in Colorado last year was an all-time high and a 25 percent increase over 2018, according to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and state violent-crime statistics.

There were 46,510 American adults who died by suicide in 2018, including 6,435 veterans, an increase of 36 veteran deaths by suicide over 2017, the VA report said.

Firearms accounted for 64.7 percent of Colorado veteran suicide deaths in 2018, compared to 51 percent nationwide, the VA said.

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“There are people really struggling,” said Kirsten Belaire, behavioral health director at Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center in Colorado Springs. “There are a lot of compounding factors.”

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