Suicide rate among MO & KS veterans higher than national average

Marc LaVoie
February 12, 2018 - 6:39 am

The numbers behind the veteran suicide rate are alarming for Kansas and Missouri, where the rates are significantly higher than the overall national rate.

One local man attempted suicide after he survived a battle that his comrades did not.

"I started getting the guilt of maybe I did something wrong, put them in a wrong position or something like that," said Chris Chugg, a Marine Corps veteran and Warrensburg native.

A report from the Veteran's Administration finds that the national veteran suicide rate was 38.4 per 100,000 in 2014, the latest year for which complete records were available. Missouri's rate was 47.2 and the rate in Kansas was 47.0.  

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, has long been known to be a factor in depression and suicide.

A combination of factors can lead to veteran suicide, including repeated deployments, traumatic backgrounds, problems transitioning to civilian life and improper mental health treatment, said Dr. Briana Goff, director of the Kansas State University Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families.

"We're treating (PTSD) as a mental illness, which is how it's identified, but it really needs to be understood as a systemic illness, an illness that has physical effects," Goff said. "It has mental effects but it also has interpersonal effects as well."

The best advice for veterans who have suicidal thoughts, Goff said, is to reach out and get help.

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