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State Officials At Loss To Explain Increase In Veteran Suicides


 Last year, 214 military veterans in Tennessee took their own lives, 17 more than the previous year. 

It’s the first time the total number of veteran suicides has eclipsed 200 since the state began tracking it in 1990.

The nine percent increase in veteran suicides comes despite the fact that the number of vets living in Tennessee fell eight percent during the same time period. 

State officials say they can’t explain the increase in suicides among vets. “We are continuing to research to see if we can identify any common links, trends or gaps,” says Yvette Martinez, Assistant Commissioner of Outreach and Communications for the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs.  “But we do not have enough information at this time.”

Approximately, eight percent of the state’s population has served in the military.  However, approximately 21 percent of the suicides reported in Tennessee each year involve veterans.

“The wounds of war are not always visible, but can at times manifest under the surface for some veterans who may not realize how quickly depression can become a critical situation,” says DVA Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder.  “One suicide is too many.”

Knox County (15) had the third-largest number of veteran suicides in the state last year, trailing only Shelby County (25) and Davidson County (19).