Monday, March 13, 2017

The Rest of the Story on Veteran Suicides

As with most things, numbers are really important but data is king. If the researchers do not tell where numbers came from, it is up to the reviewer to put the pieces together. So far, I'm totally confused.

As the number of veterans living in the US has gone down since 1999, and "efforts" have increased to the point where "awareness" has become a mega money maker, the number of reported suicides should have gone down after all these years. So why are they virtually the same? 

This is such a serious issue and so far I've seen little to do with seeking answers as much as folks run around seeking publicity, including politicians.

Department Veterans Affairs 2016 Suicide Report Start with these charts from the report.
2013 Report from Alaska
Veteran Suicides Twice as High as Civilian Rates
by Jeff Hargarten, Forrest Burnson, Bonnie Campo and Chase Cook | News21
News21 filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the raw data collected by the VA to this point, but it was denied because the “disclosure of raw research data poses a serious threat to the scientific process” and because of fears the information would be misinterpreted without peer review.
Most states provided veteran suicide information gleaned from death certificates. VA research, Kemp said, shows death certificates are about 90 percent accurate and “good enough” to help understand veteran suicides.

Veterans are over-represented among suicides compared to the general population, a trend seen in most states between 2005 and 2011.

For example, in Alaska, veterans were about 14 percent of the population, but represented about 21 percent of all suicides in 2010. The same year in Washington, Census data showed veterans were about 11 percent of the population, but state vital statistics showed they represented about 23 percent of suicides.

Military, veteran suicides account for nearly one in every four in Florida ... but the numbers don't explain why
Jacksonville Times Union
By Clifford Davis
Posted April 26, 2014

In Florida, the numbers are staggering.

Although veterans make up only 8 percent of the state’s population, they accounted for more than 25 percent of its suicides, according to the report.

Between 1999 and 2011, 31,885 suicides were reported in the state, according to the Florida Department of Health. That would mean more than 8,000 Florida veterans took their lives during those 13 years, according to the VA.

The numbers put Florida among states with the highest percentage of veteran suicides — but the numbers don't explain why.

Aside from Florida, most states report the veteran suicide rate is double the civilian population rate.
Oklahoma Veterans Commit Suicide at Twice the Rate of Civilians
By Chase Cook August 27, 2013
The veteran suicide rate in Oklahoma is down from a peak of about 46 in 2008, but researchers said that year had increased suicides due to the Great Recession. The rate dropped to about 39 in 2009 and has since climbed back up.

But the puzzling thing is that California does not tract veteran suicides.
Valley Assembly members introduce legislation to track veteran suicide rates
Fresno Bee
January 20, 2017

Assemblymen Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno and Jim Patterson, R-Fresno introduced legislation Monday that would require the State of California to track how many veterans die by suicide.

AB 242 would require the California Department of Public Health to send veteran suicide rates and data from the electronic death registration system to the California Department of Veterans Affairs and the Legislature.

And in Illinois, they do not have the ability to list it on their death certificates.
Cullerton advanced Senate Bill 1693 to allow deceased veterans with military service to include their veteran status, branch of military and the period of time served in the military on their death certificate.
I went through the suicide report from the VA and they say they used the VA, DOD and CDC for reports, but with these two states not even tracking the numbers, how good is this report? The next question is, when do reporters actually start to ask for answers? When do folks running around the country actually get held accountable for "raising" awareness cash while the problem veterans face has gotten worse and when the hell do they start to raise awareness about the rest of the story?

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