US Veteran Suicide Rate Substantially Higher Than Previously Thought

 Alaska Northern Lights Provides Light Therapy Boxes to VA Clinics Amid Crisis

A new study revealed that the Veteran suicide rate may be substantially higher than the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) previous estimates. The findings indicate that every day, 22-24 Veterans aged 18-64 commit suicide, and an additional 18-20 Veterans in the same age group die from self-inflicted injuries. This alarming data suggests that the daily loss of Veteran lives to suicide and self-injury is between 40-44 individuals, highlighting a severe and pressing issue within the Veteran community. 

Serving in the US Armed Services is looked on by most Americans with great respect. Our social media feeds are filled with countless videos of soldiers returning home to surprise loved ones – all met with emotional words from thousands of people left in the comment section. Unfortunately, while empathy and thankfulness for our soldiers seems to be great, care for these heroes after returning home is challenging and sometimes limited. 

It gets worse. America’s current economic struggles have triggered a mental health crisis, evidenced by a 2.6% rise in suicides, the highest since 1941, with 49,449 lives lost. Notably, suicides among women increased by 4%. Concurrently, 22% of adults face depression, and 19.86% – nearly 50 million – are dealing with mental illnesses. Economic stressors like inflation and unemployment are exacerbating this crisis, leading to depression, anxiety, and physical health issues. 

In addition, as winter and the holidays approach, concerns about ‘winter blues’ and winter depression, often related to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), rise due to shorter days and reduced sunlight. These can cause lethargy, sadness, and lack of motivation, ranging from mild to severe. 

Cort Christie of Alaska Northern Lights works closely with VA clinics to provide light therapy boxes as alternative treatment options for Veterans. “While so many VA clinics are using every tool in their bag to combat this epidemic, more exposure needs to take place not just for our Veterans, but for all Americans suffering with mental health issues.” 

The treatment of mental health illness with pharmaceutical drugs is greater now than at any other point in US history. However, the evolution and development of natural treatments, such as light therapy, have not gained the exposure desperately needed. Light therapy simulates natural sunlight and provides a non-pharmaceutical alternative to alleviate symptoms without medication-related side effects. Alaska Northern Lights’ therapy devices help to enhance mood and mental well-being during the darker months, and for many Veterans and Americans, all year round. 

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