In the period between 1991 and 2014, 2,734 Croatian veterans committed suicide, the long-time head of the Croatian Army's Military Psychology Service, Zoran Komar, said while presenting a survey at a round table discussion on suicide in the veteran community in the eastern city of Vukovar on Wednesday.
Komar, a retired colonel, said that the number of veteran suicides increased by the year and that around 150 veterans committed suicide annually.
"There are three main reasons why defenders commit suicide: a feeling of loneliness and of being marginalised, a feeling of being a burden to the family and society, and the capacity to commit suicide because of the war trauma. Prevention is necessary and all segments of society should get involved because defenders are now entering their critical years which start at the age of 65, when the suicide rate additionally increases," said Komar.
He said that the suicide rates in the veteran community in northern and northwestern Croatia were significantly higher than those in the south and the coastal region and that suicides among veterans were twice as frequent as in the rest of the population.
The head of the Zagreb City Office for War Veterans, Vesna Helfrih, said that apart from prevention programmes, which did not require a lot of money but primarily good will and organisation, veterans should be included in all social activities and given employment so as to regain self-respect.