Unaccounted casualties: The suicide rate of young veterans far outstrips the general population
Sun Coast Today
By Michael Bonner
Posted Mar 30, 2019
A knock on the door interrupted Brandon Cardoza. Standing outside of his second floor Chestnut Hall freshman dorm room was Luke Carreiro.
“This wasn’t ordinary for him,” Cardoza said. “When he showed up, I was concerned. He wanted to come in. I said ‘Let’s have a conversation.’”
Cardoza discarded his books, brushed aside his homework and sat on his bed. Sitting at Cardoza’s desk, Carreiro informed one of his best friends he was unhappy in college. He wanted more. He wanted to enlist in the military.
“I wanted to be a supportive friend,” Cardoza said. “I was just hoping he would stay. Because we had grown up together for five years. It’s selfish I understand, but, with the stories coming out overseas, I didn’t want to lose my good friend.”
Cardoza’s premonition became a reality. Carreiro died, not in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty, but because of Iraq.
On December 2, 2015, Carreiro, at the age of 26, took his own life on a military site in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“Once I heard it was suicide, I instantly snapped back to that conversation in my dorm room,” Cardoza said.
The details of Carreiro’s story may be unique, however, the ending is not.
Carreiro was one of more than 72,000 veterans who committed suicide from 2005 to 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The suicide rate among veterans ages 18-34, which Carreiro fell into, is 45 per 100,000, much higher than the rate of non-veterans, which is less than 30, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Younger veterans experience a higher rate of suicide, however, older veterans, ages 55-75 experience the highest number of suicides.
“This story, (Luke’s story), it happens so much,” Veteran and activist Chris Azevedo said. “And this is the problem.”read more here