If We Want to Address the Crisis of Veteran Suicide, We Must Acknowledge Its History
BY SIMON HAROLD WALKER
SEPTEMBER 6, 2019
This problem is not one limited to a single country or point in time, nor is its importance limited to awareness days like World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10. Military suicide has occurred for centuries around the world but has most often been overlooked or ignored.In 2018, 33-year-old American Marine veteran Justin Miller died by suicide in the parking lot of the very organization he had turned to for help. After four days in the Minneapolis Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital, Miller had been released and immediately took his own life. Between October 2017 and November 2018, 18 additional suicides were recorded on VA campuses around the country. As recently as Aug. 7, 2019, another veteran took his own life in a VA parking lot.
These types of deaths are not limited to the United States. In December of 2018, a public mass vigil in Britain remembered 70 Scottish veterans who died by suicide that year. This event formed part of a public protest at the lack of official care and support for veterans. In April of this year, debate within the House of Commons clarified that the official statistics that determined there had been 58 veteran suicides in 2018 had grievously underestimated the actual figure. Third-sector organizations, public groups and charities assured the British government that the figure was almost double the official statistics.
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