VA conducts nation’s largest analysis of Veteran suicide


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VA has undertaken the most comprehensive analysis of Veteran suicide rates in the U.S., examining over 55 million Veteran records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation. The effort extends VA’s knowledge from the previous report issued in 2010, which examined three million Veteran records from 20 states were available.  Based on the data from 2010, VA estimated the number of Veteran deaths by suicide averaged 22 per day.  The current analysis indicates that in 2014, an average of 20 Veterans a day died from suicide.

“One Veteran suicide is one too many, and this collaborative effort provides both updated and comprehensive data that allows us to make better informed decisions on how to prevent this national tragedy,” said VA Under Secretary for Health, Dr. David J. Shulkin. “We as a nation must focus on bringing the number of Veteran suicides to zero.”

Dr. David Shulkin speaks at the National Press Club on Thursday, July 7.

Dr. David Shulkin speaks at the National Press Club on Thursday, July 7.

The final report will be publicly released later this month.  Key findings of the analysis will include:

  • 65 percent of all Veterans who died from suicide in 2014 were 50 years of age or older.
  • Veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults. This is a decrease from 22 percent in 2010.
  • Since 2001, U.S. adult civilian suicides increased 23 percent, while Veteran suicides increased 32 percent in the same time period.  After controlling for age and gender, this makes the risk of suicide 21 percent greater for Veterans.
  • Since 2001, the rate of suicide among U.S. Veterans who use VA services 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.

Please also see our Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet at this link.

VA is aggressively undertaking a number of new measures to prevent suicide, including:

  • Ensuring same-day access for Veterans with urgent mental health needs at over 1,000 points of care by the end of calendar year 2016. In fiscal year 2015, more than 1.6 million Veterans received mental health treatment from VA, including at over 150 medical centers, 820 community-based outpatient clinics and 300 Vet Centers that provide readjustment counseling.  Veterans also enter VA health care through the Veterans Crisis Line, VA staff on college and university campuses, or other outreach points.

Using predictive modeling to determine which Veterans may be at highest risk of suicide, providers can intervene early. Veterans in the top 0.1 percent of risk, who have a 43-fold increased risk of death from suicide within a month, can be identified before clinical signs of suicide are evident in order to save lives before a crisis occurs.

  • Expanding telemental health care by establishing four new regional telemental health hubs across the VA healthcare system.
  • Hiring over 60 new crisis intervention responders for the Veterans Crisis Line. Each responder receives intensive training on a wide variety of topics in crisis intervention, substance use disorders, screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment.
  • Building new collaborations between Veteran programs in VA and those working in community settings, such as Give an Hour, Psych Armor Institute, University of Michigan’s Peer Advisors for Veterans Education Program (PAVE), and the Cohen Veterans Network.
  • Creating stronger inter-agency (e.g. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health) and new public-private partnerships (e.g., Johnson & Johnson Healthcare System, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, Walgreen’s, and many more) focused on preventing suicide among Veterans.

Many of these efforts were catalyzed by VA’s February 2016 Preventing Veteran Suicide—A Call to Action summit, which focused on improving mental health care access for Veterans across the nation and increasing resources for the VA Suicide Prevention Program.

Suicide is an issue that affects all Americans.  Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data reported in April 2016  that from 1999 through 2014 (the most recent year with data available from CDC), suicide rates increased 24 percent in the general population for both males and females.

VA has implemented comprehensive, broad ranging suicide prevention initiatives, including a toll-free Veterans Crisis Line, placement of suicide prevention coordinators at all VA Medical Centers and large outpatient facilities, and improvements in case management and tracking.  Immediate help is available at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net or by calling the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) or texting 838255.

 

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Comments

  1. Dana May    

    What’s contributing to the mental health issues , that is increasing the number of suicides? Joblessness, poverty, poor health care, medical bills. You can hire all the crisis intervention people you want , but until you fix these problems you’re really not going to put a dent in the number of suicides.

    1. Gary Bowlin    

      Hopelessness is the overview I think and feel. If someone feels hopeless, (which can be a combination of many factors, like above comment “joblessness, poverty, poor health care, medical bills.”… our world is a mess) it will obviously lead to helplessness and negative energy. Will-to-live escapes you, and getting out of your “shell”, feels the only solution.
      You sure aren’t going to get anyone close to you to listen or understand for very long. Trust me, I know. I couldn’t feel more alone than I do now… and I’ve been chronic for years.

  2. Robert David Hummel    

    *** I’, ‘WONDER’, Just how much more will the rate of SUICIDE, increase or rise, as, “The Executive, Legislative & Judicial… INSULTS continue to Plague Our Great Republic”… with the effects that LITERALLY and Figuratively, lay a Heavy Heart BURDEN on the MANY, Valiant, Loyal,& Courageous, Active Service Members, Combat Veterans, & Senior Citizens, that have, “Given their all, in Service to Our Republic’s FREEDOMS”… THAT ARE BEING SO BLATANTLY ABUSED … by THOSE of OUR PRESENT GOVERNMENT #?#?#?…. ergo..as in the following:

    *** The “OBAMA’, PLANS TO DESTROY AMERICA
    *** The UNCANNY IRONY of the TERROR in DALLAS,TX, … Fits right into the Learned ‘PLAY-BOOK’, of the OBAMA’, & the Obama Administration’s, …”RULE’S for Radical’s, & The Cloward-Piven Strategy”, that the OBAMA & his MINIONS HAVE BEEN… “INCESSANTLY EMPLOYING’, in their EFFORTS to cause America,
    TO> FALL from WITH-IN”…. via, more DIVISION, DERISION, and DESTRUCTION of Our once Principled… “CITIZEN’, application of Moral’s, Value’s, and Ethical Behavior NORM’S.
    ***Former IIllinois Congressman turned conservative radio host Joe Walsh went on a twitter rant following the deadly sniper attack on Dallas police officers Thursday, including a now-deleted message that read: “This is now war. Watch out Obama.”
    Walsh, a Republican who represented Illinois’ 8th district from 2011 to 2013 before becoming a syndicated radio host, delivered a series of tweets that criticized President Barack Obama and suggested that the president was a “cop hater” no different from “the thugs on the street.”
    *** And that ”’ “ISLAMIC Muslim Radical’, (((…the ROOT’S of His RAISING RUN DEEP…))),… in the White House… that ‘calls’ himself ‘President’,… is Just waiting for the ‘Congressional Summer Break’, ”’TO Declare’, Martial law”, in the OBAMA effort’s TO: further Destroy OUR AMERICA.
    Robert David Hummel SFC, USA, (Ret), INVERNESS, FLORIDA

    1. patrik bernard    

      You really believe what it is you are saying?

  3. Hugh R. Majesty    

    Since our government is now p’wned by corporations, especially medicine and pharmaceuticals, anything that they touch turns to kaka.

  4. Alex Bravo    

    On the main page I happened to look down the right side and saw this: Is the Choice Program affecting your credit? For assistance, call 1-877-881-7618 and Press 1 between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. VA will help you resolve adverse credit reporting and debt collection issues caused by use of the Choice Program.

    Excuse me, but WHAT DA FUH????? This is like a huge red flag RIGHT ON THE FARKIN’ HOME PAGE that should read: Use this stinkin’ program and your own stupid risk, or words to that effect.

    I’m with Hugh, above. If our health care is being farmed out to the greediest sociopaths on earth–the Health Vampire Industry–then get ready, Vets, for a royal fooquage. First they send you to places you didn’t even know existed, several times in a row, destroy your nuclear and extended family relationships, and then they provide McDonald’s healthcare quacks who are so busy trying to pay off their creditors and insurers they of course can’t spare a minute for you.

    This has the stink of DOOM all over it.

  5. Tired O. Waiting    

    Wonder how many of them were waiting on a disability appeal? Over two years and still nothing, Parkinson’s denied as not service connected. Feet on ground, Vietnam, 1969.

  6. t kirschbaum    

    D May, you hit the nail on the head. What’s the point of more body’s sitting at a desk waiting for the phone to ring to talk someone out of taking their life if first you don’t figure out what brought them to do this in the first place! Ass-Backward thinking is not what we need here given the seriousness of the situation.

  7. Robert R. Jester    

    These SOBs (edited) figured out the VA is the reason. vets are committing suicide.

  8. Steve Young    

    This is the Veterans Administration that’s what they want us to do 7 days ago my best friend and farmer veteran took a shotgun on his birthday and committed suicide after waiting 3 years for my appeal that’s just what the Veterans Administration did to me the systems not working it’s only setup to benefit them with their bonuses to keep the veteran out in the street and waiting years putting them in financial bind and loss of family thank you.

    1. liz    

      I cannot help but express how sorry I feel for your loss and how angered I am that the VA has yet “won” again..with the suicide of Veterans. I have been dealing with VA Health Care denials and with 100% disability have been told, if I want better, to purchase an HMO outside of VA-and this is by Psychiatry and Primary Care. I recently stumbled onto iTunes(free) podcasts Continuing VA Medical education for Mental Health-where it was spelled out-deny Narcotic pain medications by 95%, thus reducing spending by Millions of dollars and thereby reducing office visits to both Psychiatry and Primary care and Chronic Pain Clinics and saving Millions $$. This was presented by Director of Psychiatry on East Coast….WHY is the Media not exposing this information? WHY is no one asking how many Veterans that have been denied their Narcotics for pain (legitimately incurred on the Battlefield) are now turning to the Black Market for synthetic Opioids or Heroin and dying? Those numbers don’t count?? They are stating those are Veterans outside of the VA Health Care System now?? as Suicides… I don’t think so, they deny, deny, hope they will die. We fought on the Battlefields, and were spit on-only to return broken and be treated on a new Battlefield with little or no fight left. I am not sad, I am ANGRY.

  9. Bob Gutsche    

    I have a question that I am having a difficult time getting anyone at VA to answer.
    Are the people at the veterans crisis line VA employees or are they other mental health professionals paid by VA contract.

  10. patrik bernard    

    The unfortunate reality is since service is not a requirement most people have never served nor care to serve, leaving it to “others”.

    The fact is most people even the legislators, judges, congressmen elected officials have never served, and they are the ones who can make a difference in this regard, so while they pay lip service to “the veteran” thanking him or her for their service, it is mostly a hollow meaningless platitude.

    The harsh reality is, unless they are personally immediately affected, “Out of sight out of mind” is how the majority approaches and on this issue the public doesn’t seem to care.

    I care, that’s why I am laying it out as the hard facts. Veterans have to find ways to help veterans.

Comments are closed.