Troubling number of veterans still committing suicide

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Caption
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

On Thursday, the Department of Veterans Affairs released new statistics about veteran suicide.

On average, 20 veterans died from suicide every day in 2014, according to the VA.

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This is the first study in which the VA looked at records from all 50 states between 1979 and 2014. Previously, they had used data from only 20 states.

Ryan Gallucci, of the nonprofit Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the problem is still a serious concern for the veterans' community.

“All this means right now is that we have better information than we had before,” Gallucci said.

Veterans accounted for 18 percent of all suicides among U.S. adults in 2014, down from 22 percent in 2010.

Certain groups faced more problems compared to civilians. Older veterans face a higher risk of suicide, data showed. The risk of suicide is more than two times higher for female veterans than it is for female civilians.

Gallucci isn’t sure why. “There (are) some misconceptions about suicide in the veteran community, and one is that it is strictly a problem for younger veterans,” Gallucci said. “But when you are talking about problems with either family or financial issues, this can affect older veterans as well.”

The VA said preventing suicide is a top priority. The agency is adding psychologists, adding more employees to the Veterans Crisis Line and making it easier for a veteran calling a local VA clinic to connect with the suicide hotline.

The Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255. Veterans can also send a text message to 838255 to get help immediately.