Thursday, June 21, 2018

VA Suicide report shows need for change!

UPDATE: The report on suicides from the VA is useless!

VA backs off suicide study that indicated thousands of unreported military deaths
Military Times
By: Leo Shane III
19 hours ago

WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs officials are walking back a new suicide study which appeared to show thousands of unreported military deaths in recent years, saying differences among classifications of service members led to confusion in the statistics.

At issue is an update last week to VA’s annual National Suicide Data Report, a massive collaboration between the department, defense researchers and census analysts which has founds that roughly 20 veterans a day take their own lives. That figure has held steady from 2008 to 2015, the latest year data is available.

But for the first time, this year’s update to the report breaks down those figures into veterans receiving VA health care (about six individuals a day), veterans not using the department’s health services (11 a day), and a group including active-duty troops, guardsmen and reservists (four a day).

That calculation would put the official Defense Department suicide total among troops at close to 1,400 for 2015, about 900 higher than what military officials had previously reported.
read more here

VA Suicide report screams need for change
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 21, 2018

It looks like the more people talk about "raising awareness" on veterans committing suicide, the more they lose hope. The more people talk about "PTSD Awareness" the less veterans end up hearing.

It is time to stop talking about them and start learning how to actually help them!

VA Releases National Suicide Data Report
Analysis Part of VA’s Comprehensive Examination of More Than 55 Million Death Records

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released findings from its most recent analysis of Veteran suicide data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This report yields several important insights:
Suicide rates increased for both Veterans and non-Veterans, underscoring the fact that suicide is a national public health concern that affects people everywhere.
The average number of Veterans who died by suicide each day remained unchanged at 20.
The suicide rate increased faster among Veterans who had not recently used Veterans Health Administration health care than among those who had.
Here is a link to the report itself.

The report covers up to 2015.

Out of 20 million veterans the VA has about 9 million in their system.

The report shows that veterans over the age of 50 are still over half of the known suicides, 58.1% down from 65%.

The number of living veterans dropped 15.2% between 2005 and 2015.

The report also includes something that is stunning. The numbers include active duty, National Guard and Reservists.

While the DOD releases quarterly reports on suicides, with an average of 500 a year, this leaves many of us wondering exactly how many veterans are in the data the VA released.

Veterans going to the VA are still less likely to commit suicide.

While it does show that the number of known suicides has remained an average of 20 a day, the number of veterans has dropped 15.2% and that jumped out because there is much more the report does not show.

Start with who did not count.

While the VA said the report is from 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico, it turns out that actually that cannot be true.

In 2017, California with the largest veterans population, passed legislation to add military service to the death certificates. Illinois, with over 700,000 veterans, also took a step to began to track veterans. That means, the veterans, not in the VA system, would not have been counted by the VA or the CDC, since the CDC would not know their status as "veterans" and would not be able to include them.

Discharges that were not "honorable" would not be counted as veteran. That number is in the hundreds of thousands.

In some states, National Guard and Reservists are not counted as "veterans" unless they were deployed. 

Veterans who live in other countries, apparently, are not counted. 

Questions remain as to veterans shot by police after a crisis, "suicide by cop" and "murder suicides" along with accidents, drug overdoses and if homeless veterans are counted, since many of them are not in anyone's system. It is hard enough for advocates to figure out how many homeless veterans there are.

The other thing we do know is that for all the "awareness" that has been going on since the original report put the known number at "22" a day, it got worse. 

Isn't it about time it dawned on everyone that we need to change the conversation? Change the "awareness" from how many someone thinks committed suicide into how they can find hope again? 

There is a great article on how data was collected in the original report from the Washington Post 
The missing context behind the widely cited statistic that there are 22 veteran suicides a day

Among the findings;
They cautioned against the use of the 22-deaths figure more than once in the study: “It is recommended that the estimated number of veterans be interpreted with caution due to the use of data from a sample of states and existing evidence of uncertainty in veteran identifiers on U.S. death certificates.”

To account for uncertainties, researchers gave a range of 18 to 22 veteran suicides a day, which is consistent with previous VA estimates using CDC data. The report does not include some states with the largest veteran population (including California, Texas, Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina), so it is unclear how this would affect the rate.

This was the first time the VA used death certificates from states to study the veteran population beyond those who receive services through the Veterans Health Administration.

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