Suicide Rate Among National Guard Members Is a Call To Action

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 As Minnesota’s National Guard members return from their deployment to Kuwait, the state can expect the problems faced by returning veterans to increase to a “tsunami” level.” Uppermost on that list is the potential for suicide.

Minnesota has the highest number of suicides among its Guard members than any other state, Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, adjutant general for the Minnesota National Guard, told a joint meeting of the House Veterans Services Division and the Senate State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee. No action was taken.

Since 2007, 24 Minnesota National Guard members have taken their own life — followed by Oregon at 16. Nash noted the incidents occurred among members who had never been deployed, debunking the common assumption that suicide is related to post-traumatic stress syndrome.

“The essential fact is suicide rates have been increasing, not only those in the military. … Suicide rates in Minnesota are five times higher than homicides,” Nash said.

Many factors contribute to a person taking their own life, including unemployment, family breakups and financial stresses, he said.

Minnesota’s high unemployment rate among veterans (approximately 12 percent) has Nash concerned. While recently in Kuwait visiting Minnesota’s National Guard contingent, he learned that 28 percent of the force would be facing unemployment when they return in 2012. Read more here.