The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday released its latest report on Suicides and the results, while shocking is not quite unexpected. As we have known of the veteran suicide rate for some time, however, veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide as civilians.
Veterans make up more than 14 percent of all suicides, although they account for only 8 percent of the total population, the VA report said.
While the trend hasn’t changed since 2014, deaths by suicide are increasing among veterans just as they are in the general population, the VA found. Data for the study was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Death Index.
“After adjusting for differences in age, the rate of suicide in 2015 was 2.1 times higher among veterans compared with nonveteran adults,” the report reads. Data for 2015 was the latest complete set of numbers available.
The rate was 1.3 times higher for male veterans compared with civilians and twice as high for female vets, the report found.
“In 2015, an average of 20.6 active-duty service members, nonactivated Guard or Reserve members, and other veterans died by suicide each day,” it said.
Suicides are up across the country. It’s not clear why, but psychiatrists and suicide experts say it’s probably a combination of factors — a lack of access to mental health care, a growing sense of disconnection in society, economic woes and relationship problems.
According to the VA statistics, there are 20.6 suicides every day. Of those, 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active-duty servicemembers, guardsmen, and reservists. That amounts to 6,132 veterans and 1,387 servicemembers who died by suicide in one year.
The VA’s 2012 report stated 22 veterans succumbed to suicide every day – a number that’s still often cited incorrectly. That number also included active-duty troops, Guard and Reserve, the VA said.
Regardless, the number is far too high and will be a key goal for the incoming VA director to address.
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Photo courtesy AP