Veterans Administration Confirms Soldier Suicide is Mostly Veteran Suicide

Veterans Administration Confirms Soldier Suicide is Mostly Veteran Suicide

New Details from June 2018 Update Earlier Landmark Report – Lowers Daily Suicide Rate from 22 to 20.6

(17 Veterans – 4/Active)

A Veterans Administration report that came out in June 2018 reveals some shocking new insights into their VA’s previous landmark soldier and veterans suicide report, published in 2016. Veteran suicide is worse than some thought.

The biggest adjustment lowers their official number from 22 soldier suicides a day down to 20.6, but Veterans carry most of that burden. Secondly, the academic and nonprofit community’s response isn’t what we would have expected it to be. Let’s take a quick look at both insights to learn more about veteran suicide.


20.6 Not 22

Instead of 22 soldier suicides a day, we now know that the national average is 20.6 suicides every day. Of those, 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active-duty service members, guardsmen and reservists, the report states. That amounts to 6,132 veterans and 1,387 service members who died by suicide in one year. 

The important thing to remember about the original report, and what makes this new information more interesting, is the time frame of it all. The first VA report, delivered in 2016, reviewed 55 million records from 1979 – 2012. It covered the 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D. C. Thirty-three years is a quality report, but it is unclear as to what going back further, if possible, would tell about these more modern day statistics. We know that WW I and WW II soldiers suffered from shell-shock (PTSD), but did they kill themselves over it before 1979?  

The VA’s 2016 report was delivered by VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour. His statement and the new numbers sent a minor shockwave through the groups involved. Many nonprofits have branded themselves with 22. Some other high level participants were truly not aware that the number represented veterans at all. Many believed it was active duty. Honestly, I was one of them when the news first hit and the awareness started. 

Veteran Suicide Advocates Caught Off-Guard

Information in the 2012 report wasn’t as complete as the newer ones. At the time, only 21 states shared information from their death certificates. California and Texas, which have large veteran populations, were two of the states that didn’t provide their data. For that reason perhaps, some veteran advocates responded on social media with questions.

One person said the community was “thrown off.” Heidi Kar, a project director at the nonprofit Education Development Center and a clinical psychologist with expertise in veteran suicide, said she had previously understood the statistic to be a veteran-only number.


Cedrick Taylor - Connecticut 2016 PTSD-related suicide

VA To Update Veteran Suicide Data More Often

What seems to have been missed was that the VA is committed to researching and publishing regular veteran suicide data, perhaps on an annual basis. Now that the crisis has entered the mainstream consciousness of Americans, doing the right things on all fronts should be easier. 

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