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Guilt + Disappointment = Suicide

Everybody is aware that suicide is a major problem among veterans, averaging 20 dead veterans every day.  (A terrorist bomb killing 20 Americans every day would not be tolerated.)  Veterans are only 8.5% of the population but are 18% of total suicides.

A new study by the Veterans Administration showed something else:  60% of all suicides are age 50 or older.

We think of vets killing themselves as young men who are riddled with guilt over atrocities they saw or committed or unable to adjust to a non-violent world when they returned.  While the age group of 18-29 does have the highest rate of suicide per thousand veterans, that age group is small compared to other age groups.

The over-50 age group is a much larger group.  It is also the age when most people begin to realize their dreams will not come true – becoming disappointed and disgruntled both at work and at home.  The bad memories they carry become too great a burden when normal disappointment is piled on top.  The pain of living inside their heads becomes unbearable.

One ironic factoid:  68% of veterans kill themselves with firearms – a skill many learned in basic training.