Saturday, September 5, 2015

Tampa Veterans Suicide Prevention Gets Numbers Wrong

How the hell does anyone expect to change anything as long as they trivialize suicides down to a soundbite? Putting the numbers of veterans suffering is far more complicated than just using a headline. The truth is we will never really know the true number.

These are some of the numbers they do know about and it has been more of an apocalypse even with thousands of calls to suicide prevention hotlines, charities all over the country claiming to be taking care of them and Congress spending billions every year.

The rate of veterans committing suicide is double the civilian population with the majority of them being over 50. Then there is the other figure of young veterans committing suicide at triple the rate of their civilian peers.

For female veterans the number is even worse. But why talk about any of them? After all, after all the claims of doing everything humanly possible to save their lives, it seems hardly no one is telling the truth. The worst part of all of this is veterans have been committing suicide double the civilian population rate since before 2007 and that percentage has remained unchanged.

The Department of Veterans Affairs research on suicides used 22 as an average and the press picked up on it but they missed the fact that those numbers were from limited data submitted from just 21 states.
Further, this report contains information from the first 21 states to contribute data for this project and does not include some states, such as California and Texas, with larger Veteran populations.

Information from these states has been received and will be included in future reports.
Suicide among Veterans – As Reported on Death Certificates

Of the 147,763 suicides reported in 21 states, 27,062 (18.3%) were identified as having history of U.S. military service on death certificates. However, Veteran status was unknown or not reported for more than 23% (n=34,027) of all suicides during the project period. Without linking to VA or DoD resources to validate history of U.S. military service, it is necessary to remove those without information on history of military service from estimates of Veteran status among suicide decedents. Among cases where history of U.S. military service was reported, Veterans comprised approximately 22.2% of all suicides reported during the project period. If this prevalence estimate is assumed to be constant across all U.S. states, an estimated 22 Veterans will have died from suicide each day in the calendar year 2010.

Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans reported by CBS News November 13, 2007
"Dr. Steve Rathbun is the acting head of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at the University of Georgia. CBS News asked him to run a detailed analysis of the raw numbers that we obtained from state authorities for 2004 and 2005.

It found that veterans were more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 than non-vets. (Veterans committed suicide at the rate of between 18.7 to 20.8 per 100,000, compared to other Americans, who did so at the rate of 8.9 per 100,000.)"

So we have, as the following report shows, thousands of calls into the hotline but the numbers are showing one more thing no one talks about, the flip side of hell. Read the reports then go to the bottom for more.

Tampa Bay hotline aims at reducing veterans’ suicides
News Channel 8
By Steve Andrews Investigative Reporter
Published: September 4, 2015

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – Every 65 minutes, a U.S. veteran takes his or her life. When army specialist Robert Bradford returned home from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, his mother Monte Reinhardt, noticed a change. “He just wasn’t his usual playful self,” Monte recalls. She could see the depression in Robert’s eyes.

“At that point, I really didn’t know who to talk to about it,” she said.In July 2011, Robert tried to commit suicide. Nearly four months ago, in May, he died at the James A. Haley veterans hospital, from complications associated with his wound.

“The suicide rate alone for veterans right now is currently 22 veterans a day, that’s almost one veteran an hour,” said Jamie McPherson, an intervention specialist working at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. More than 300,000 veterans call Tampa Bay home. The Crisis Center hears from troubled veterans everyday.

“Upwards of about 2,500 to 3,000 calls on any given year were from veterans needing assistance,” Debra Harris, a director of 2-1-1 and suicide prevention services said. Debra points out the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs as well as other state agencies and funding sources are trying a revolutionary project in the bay area.
read more here

You really want to reduce these veterans to a soundbite? Here's one. "2 Veterans Commit Suicide For Every 1 Civilian." How's that? Is that easy enough? Then consider one more fact.
How Many Veterans Are There?
There are 21.8 million veterans of the U.S. armed forces as of 2014, according the Census Bureau, approximately 10 percent of whom are women. To put that in context there are 319.2 million Americans, according to the bureau. The states with the highest number of veteran residents are California with 2 million, Texas with 1.6 million and Florida also with 1. 6 million, the bureau estimates. Each of these states have major military bases including Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Irwin in California and Naval Air Station Pensacola.

While it is true we will never know the real number of veterans committing suicide, the "22 a Day" claim is not even close.

So why isn't anyone asking why there are so many when the Suicide Prevention Hotlines get thousands of calls? Because if they did, then they would finally understand as bad as the numbers are, they would be even higher without the hotline.

Stunning when you think about these men and women were ready to sacrifice their lives for someone else, survived combat but couldn't survive back home.

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