A study recently released by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and Cohen Veterans Network suggests a rise in the national unemployment rate could be linked to a rise in the number of veterans who die by suicide, and substance use disorders among veterans could also rise compared to the period prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report indicated that for every 5% increase in the national unemployment rate, up to 550 additional veterans could die by suicide within the next 12 months. Meanwhile, an economic recession sparked by COVID-19 could lead to an additional 20,000 vets who develop a substance use disorder, the study reports.
As with the civilian population, unemployment among veterans sharply rose in recent months. The study noted that the unemployment rate for veterans in May was 9.1%, compared to 3.8% in March and 2.9% in May 2019.
“None of us are immune to the economic effects of the pandemic, and veterans as a group are at risk for increased rates of addiction and suicide as rates of unemployment rise,” Meadows president and CEO Andy Keller, PhD, said in a news release. “We need to prepare now, so we are ready when they turn to mental health providers for help."