AP IMPACT: home from war in Iraq and Afghanistan, veterans at risk of suicide

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

The Veterans Affairs Department is ramping up its suicide prevention programs.

The VA has determined there were at least 283 suicides among veterans who left the military between the start of the Afghan war and the end of 2005.

Those figures are not dramatically different from society as a whole, but they do provide the first quantitative look at the toll on today's combat veterans.

The number of suicides after returning home is about double that of troop suicides in the war zones. A total of 147 troops have killed themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan since the wars began.

According to the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, research suggests that combat trauma increases the risk of suicide. The Pentagon says failed relationships, financial and legal troubles and substance abuse also are risk factors.

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