On Aug. 3, the VA released Suicide Among Veterans and Other Americans 2001-2014, a comprehensive analysis of veteran suicide rates in the United States in which VA examined more than 55 million veterans’ records from 1979 to 2014.
“While the number of suicides among all veterans is significant, what may not be known is that approximately 65 percent of all veterans who died from suicide in 2014 were 50 years of age or older,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America. “Why is it that so many veterans, basically, take their lives by suicide? Last year, the Clay Hunt SAV Act, Public Law 114-2, was enacted to address the high suicide rate amongst the newer veterans but did not specifically address the older veterans. We call on the VA to increase its outreach and education efforts immediately so that the families of all veterans, especially our older veterans, are aware of this risk.
“The VA must overcome all barriers to find the key — if indeed there is one — to preventing suicide in as many instances as possible among our veterans,” he added. “All Americans must also realize that there is a very serious problem with veteran suicides and act upon it with a coordinated effort in our communities — with our fellow veterans, both young and old; our families; our friends; and with researchers and the agencies of government. As we have repeatedly stated, one veteran suicide is too many. And let’s not fool ourselves with easy answers.”
Since 2001, the rate of suicide among U.S. veterans who use VA services has increased by 8.8 percent, while the rate of suicide among veterans who do not use VA services increased by 38.6 percent.
In the same time period, the rate of suicide among male veterans who use VA services increased 11 percent, while the rate of suicide increased 35 percent among male veterans who do not use VA services.
In the same time period, the rate of suicide among female veterans who use VA services increased 4.6 percent, while the rate of suicide increased 98 percent among female veterans who do not use VA services. Go to www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/2016suicidedatareport.pdf to read the report. (Source: VVA Web Weekly | August 5, 2016)
Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire. His veteran updates can be found weekly in The Newberry Observer.