A total of 2,734 war veterans in Croatia took their lives from the war year 1991 through 2014 and they are the most vulnerable social group, notably disabled war veterans, it was said on Wednesday at a presentation of a study on suicide among veterans.
Most veterans, 320, committed suicide in Zagreb, including four women, while most suicides per capita were recorded in Bjelovar-Bilogora County, says the study by Zoran Komar and Elvira Koic. It was financed by Zagreb's City Office for War Veterans. The authors were assisted by psychiatrist Herman Vukusic and War Veterans Minister Predrag Matic.
Komar said that unlike the civilian population, which recorded a decline in suicides over the past 15 years, the trend was the opposite among war veterans and expected to deteriorate because the population was ageing. He said the study was an appeal and a warning that something must be done so that those who deserved the most credit for the free and independent Croatia did not take their own lives.
From 1991 to 1996, 100 veterans on average committed suicide annually, as against about 150 now, which means that one commits suicide every third day.
A consensus is necessary between politics, civil society and the public about veterans' problems because one of the reasons they commit suicide is "silent marginalisation," a result of the early retirement and various forms of stigmatisation of people who were once proud warriors and enjoyed general gratitude, Komar said.
Psychiatrist Veljko Djordjevic pushed for cooperation between veterans and professionals in suicide prevention. He said the negative trends must be reversed because veterans died in their 50s on average, about 20 years earlier than the rest of the population.