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Report Shows Veteran Suicide Rates Are Astronomically High

by Countable | 9.21.17

What’s the story?

Last Friday the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a press release concerning a new study of veterans’ suicide rates compared to the general population. The study reviewed records from 1979-2014 from all 50 states, and found the rate of suicide for veterans is much higher than for the civilian population, yet the study has gotten very little coverage from the wider media.

Why does it matter?

The current study, focusing on state by state data, is a follow up to an August 2016 report aggregating national veteran’s suicide statistics for 2001-2014. Here are some of the important, and alarming, details:

  • In 2014, an average of 20 veterans died by suicide each day.

  • In 2014, veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths by suicide among U.S. adults despite being only 8.5 percent of the U.S. adult population (ages 18 and older). In 2010, veterans accounted for 20.1 percent of all deaths by suicide and represented 9.6 percent of the U.S. adult population.

  • After adjusting for differences in age, risk for suicide was 22 percent higher among veterans compared with U.S. civilian adults. (2014)

  • After adjusting for differences in age and sex, risk for suicide was 19 percent higher among male veterans compared with U.S. civilian adult men. (2014)

  • After adjusting for differences in age and sex, risk for suicide was 2.5 times – that’s 250 percent – higher among female veterans compared with U.S. civilian adult women. (2014)

In Friday’s press release VA Secretary David Shulkin was quoted as saying that veteran suicide was a public health issue, and suicide prevention has become his primary clinical priority:

"These findings are deeply concerning, which is why I made suicide prevention my top clinical priority. I am committed to reducing Veteran suicides through support and education. We know that of the 20 suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 are not under VA care. This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach."

What do you think?

Should these reports, and the rates of suicide among veterans, be getting more attention from the public? Should Congress be prioritizing funds for programs attempting to prevent suicides among veterans? What about the incredibly high rate of suicide among female veterans compared to the civilian population? Should the VA be looking into that specifically?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: US Air Force / Creative Commons)

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(52)
  • RadicalModerate
    09/21/2017
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    It's because we send these young folks out to do the most horrible things to other human beings. We tell them "it's for your country". Then when they realize there only promoting the agenda of corporations and destroying families and communities, it becomes hard to cope.

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  • UnapologeticallyAmerican
    09/22/2017
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    This is a very personal, and very real issue for me. In 2012 I deployed to Afghanistan as an Infantry Officer in Support of Operation: Enduring Freedom. During my year downrange I experienced combat, and seen first hand the brutalities of modern warfare. When I returned home, I spent an additional year being diagnosed with and treated for PTSD. For me, suicide has been and continues to be something I struggle with on a nearly daily basis. While I have gotten better, some days are certainly better than others. You would think these suicidal tendencies would be more a direct result of the combat I experienced in Afghanistan, but they are more a result of being a civilian and trying to be normal again. Of trying to fit in and be like everyone else, because the moment anyone finds out I served overseas and especially if they find out I have PTSD, I become a second class citizen. Nobody wants to be around a "Crazy Combat Veteran" and so they don't. When I came home, my wife left me because she didn't understand me. The friends I did have, stopped wanting to hang out because they didn't know how to talk to me. Relationships don't last because no woman wants to have to deal with my baggage. Employer's don't want to keep me on payroll because they're afraid I might one day be a problem. I live a very lonely life. The crazy thing is, and I know it doesn't make any sense, but I wish I was back in Afghanistan because that's where things made sense. I feel out of place now, and so do many Veterans like me. We just don't feel like we belong any where. For the reasons I have listed, and I know there are many more, it's easy to think that suicide is the only real choice to make if it means not feeling so alone, and so hopeless. In fact, three Soldiers I served with and fought alongside have committed suicide as a result of their PTSD. While I don't know what the answer to this crisis is or even what it might look like, I do know that until more people start talking about it and it becomes a talking point to more than just Veterans and our families, then the needless loss of some of our greatest hero's is just going to continue.

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  • CitizenMike
    09/21/2017
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    As a service disabled combat veteran I think it is a shame that we, as a Nation, do not do more for the men and women who return from war. If you have not lived it then you can never fully understand the difficulties in returning to civilian life. Too many veterans are being lost to war after they have returned from it. We all need to be yelling from the rooftops that they are not alone and offer any/all assistance we can give them. If they were willing to write a check for their lives for us there should be nothing we shouldn't do for them.

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  • Barb
    09/22/2017
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    The suicide rate is so high because the VA does not do much to help vets with ptsd or depression. The VA needs to be more proactive in finding and treating these soldiers.

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  • Robert
    09/21/2017
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    Congress should do everything they can to support our returning soldiers mental state. Congress should also realize that this is the result of conflict and should also use great measure before they decide on more conflict around the world. War is not a boardgame or a spreadsheet, we're seeing only one result hear of war. There is a very very high price to pay with conflict.

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    09/21/2017
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    Yes, all data on Suicide should be presented to the People. It should also be compared to other countries, so we can see how America compares to its peers. Also, I believe that it may be attributed to the fact that Soldiers are asked to fight for honor of America's freedom and risk their lives for the many things we are all told we should fight for because that is what makes America great, and then the soldiers realize it has all been a lie. That they risked their lives for the benefit of corrupt corporations and the unethical and immoral politicians that support those corrupt institutions. Then the soldiers are often treated dishonorably and suffer great pains and PTSD and are told by politicians that they do not have any illness and they will not get any help and it is all in their heads. Stop Conservative oppression and the world can heal. Treat humans as people and with humanity and respect and appreciation. Instead Republicans provide this adulation to Corporations and greedy profits over the people that fought in their unethical wars. To Republicans, soldiers are nothing more than commodities to make more profit from their war machine corporations.

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  • Eric
    09/22/2017
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    When are we ever going to take mental illness seriously in this country? It makes me sick how Republicans drag their feet and refuse to help anyone who truly needs it. They claim to hold our veterans in high regard but I'm afraid actions (or lack thereof) speak louder than words.

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  • TuckerWantsLiberty
    09/21/2017
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    The best way to show you care about veterans is to STOP MAKING SO MANY OF THEM. End the wars. Bring them home.

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  • Janene
    09/21/2017
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    On average 22 men/women veterans commit suicide everyday. We as a nation need to do more to support our veterans who have willing risked all for our country. Support our veterans.

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  • Michael.J.L
    09/21/2017
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    Shameful that the news networks will cover what some reality star does but not what our veterans are enduring from serving their country. This needs to change. Our veterans deserve no less.

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  • Sheryl
    09/21/2017
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    Going to war is like finding out there's no Santa Claus. Everything you've ever believed was good and just is suddenly challenged by reality. The patriotism that swelled in your chest for your country is replaced by shame and disgust. There is suddenly no white hats, just corporate greed and imperialist ambition. People's lives are snuffed out as if they are nothing. And when you come home, your perceptions have changed. What's important is confusing. No one is a hero. Everything and everyone is just out for them self. And that's when you decide you don't want to be part of the charade anymore.

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  • MAvet75
    09/22/2017
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    If soldiers and veterans were treated better maybe this wouldn’t be the case. But sadly, there is little concern for or about veterans by the government.

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  • Sandy
    09/22/2017
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    We ask these young people to give their lives , their health and their limbs and then abandon them ! Send the politicians to fight!

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  • James
    09/21/2017
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    Not surprising. You are taught that your the countries hero, and you are protecting our values. Then you soon realize you're just a tool to fatten a business mans wallet and left to fend for yourself. I'm surprised they aren't starting a coup at this point

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  • KansasTamale
    09/22/2017
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    This entire administration has brought out the worst in everyone. The Vets are feeling that Trump doesn't care about them & the manner in which Trump is acting toward creation of more War can't help but make their lives even less stable. Why aren't the republicans taking care of the veterans they created.

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  • Mauro
    09/21/2017
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    You should not be surprised at all. Since WWII This country has been sending young boys to fight wars which have been US aggression for the benefit of big biz and have been so unjust and controversial that when soldier gets home they are traumatized and in some cases poisoned by chemicals our army used. Not to mention meagerly funded vet services which have in the past refused to treat sicknesses of agent orange victims. How could anyone be surprised that this unjust murdering which we always seem to find after its to late that 19 to 24 year olds come back and can not mentally adjust to what they have done and what was done to them.

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  • Jackie
    09/22/2017
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    We need MORE care for our veterans! No ifs, no buts, no maybes!

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  • Melissa
    09/21/2017
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    If we keep sending our people into harms way we had better go the dang distance for them no matter what their problems due to doing things against humanity!! It kills us when we are asked to kill for some obtuse idea stemming from politics! First no more war! Now, take care of every single human who has been broken by killing allegedly protecting our freedom, which we are loosing every second of our days. For Americans to stand tall we have to make a stand against killing! Start a revolution of peace love and kindness❣️👍🏼✌🏼👌🏼🌈❤️😎 Then we can let freedom ring!

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  • Chris
    09/21/2017
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    This is heart breaking. Our soldiers are sent for 3,4,5 tours in war zones that we shouldn't be in at all.

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  • David
    09/22/2017
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    Once upon a time, there was a code of honor in the military. The view was: “one tour and done”. It was widely viewed that that was a citizens debt to his country. Today “career military” are severing two and three (and more) tours. It has become a lifestyle and it’s not healthy.

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