Veterans’ Health



Funding Area

Veterans’ Health


December 6, 2023


New York State is home to more than 580,000 military veterans.[1] Although New York has one of the lowest veteran suicide rates in the nation, suicide remains a persistent challenge.

Recent data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs show that the rate has remained stubbornly high over the last 10 years despite numerous federal, State, and local investments in prevention efforts.

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  • New York veterans die by suicide at a rate nearly 2x as high as civilians. This rate has remained relatively unchanged since 2012, despite some annual decreases.

  • Younger veterans (under the age of 55) consistently experience the highest rates of suicide in New York.

  • A new development: New York veterans’ use of firearms in suicide decreased in 2021, following several years of increases.
    • Firearms are the most lethal method for suicide. New York veterans who die by suicide are 2x as likely as their civilian counterparts to use a firearm. The 13.4% decrease in firearm usage in veteran suicides in 2021 is a potential bright spot, although sustained improvement remains to be seen.

Comparisons Between National and New York State Veteran and Civilian Suicide Rates

  • Nationally, veteran suicide rates increased in 2021, as did suicide rates for their civilian counterparts. By contrast, the suicide rates in New York for both veterans and civilians remained stable in recent years.

  • Nationally, firearm usage in suicides among veterans increased by 1.1% between 2020 and 2021. By contrast, New York had a significant decrease—13.4%—in firearm modality among veterans.

[1] U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, “Veteran population. Table 6L: VETPOP2020 Living Veterans by State, Age Group, Gender, 2020-2050,”, accessed November 2023.