LVMAC Tidbit: The Latest on the Veterans Suicide Issue

The following is an excerpt from the minutes of the monthly VISN-4 veterans service organizations’ conference call in November.  It addresses the issue of suicides among veterans:

In September, VA released national and state-level findings from its most recent analysis of Veteran suicide data, from 2005 to 2016. The analysis is part of VA’s ongoing examination of non-Veteran and Veteran death records that is being used to evaluate and improve VA’s Suicide Prevention Program.

Here are a few of the key points that we learned while examining this data:
• Overall, the fact remains that on average about 20 current or former Servicemembers die each day, six have been in VA health care and 14 were not.
• Rates of suicide were highest among younger Veterans (ages 18-34) and lowest among older Veterans (ages 55 and older). However, because the older Veteran population is the largest, this group accounted for 58.1 percent of Veteran suicide deaths in 2016.
• The rate of suicide among 18-34-year-old Veterans continues to increase.
• The use of firearms as a method of suicide remains high. The percentage of suicide deaths that involved firearms was 67.0 percent in 2015 and 69.4 percent in 2016.
• Information regarding deaths among current service members is not included in this data.

Additionally, one of VA’s most crucial suicide prevention programs is getting gun locks into the hands of Veterans in order to buy time between the stimulus to use it and the execution of using it. A best practice is to give the key to the lock to someone else.

Here is the link to this data: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/Suicide-Prevention-Data.asp

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As of 24 November 2018

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