New Study: Most Violent Deaths are Suicides

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

October 12, 2005

A surprising study found that 60 percent of all violent deaths in Virginia are suicides. In fact, there are twice as many suicides in Virginia than murders.

Ken Reagle often meets with a group of Vietnam vets. Just two months ago, a Vietnam marine he knew committed suicide in Orange County.

“I went in one day, and that's when I found out that he had killed himself the night before," said Reagle.

Ken wasn't surprised to find out that a new study says white men over 65 with marital troubles, a history of depression and who have served in the Vietnam war are most likely to take their lives.

“They have not been able exactly to process the violence and death and destruction,” said Reagle

The study by the Virginia Health Department sheds even more light on who is most at risk of suicide. One in four victims is a veteran of the military.

"War is not a pleasant thing," commented one Charlottesville resident.

The study also found the risk is highest when men pass the age of 85.

“They don't talk about their feelings as much with people, so when something goes wrong they don't have others to turn to,” said Buzz Burnett, Director of Emergency Services at Region Ten.

Many suicide victims have undergone treatment for depression, mental illness, substance abuse, and have tried to kill themselves in the past.

“They finally just give up and say 'I just can't live with this any more',” said Reagle.

The health department hopes the study will help prevent suicides by raising awareness of the risks of suicide and depression in the elderly.

There are many resources available to those who need help or counseling, including a 24-hour crisis hotline in Charlottesville. If you need help call the Region Ten 24-hour crisis hotline at 434-972-1800.

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