Showing posts with label VA Suicide Prevention Hotline. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VA Suicide Prevention Hotline. Show all posts

Saturday, March 9, 2019

#MissingVeteranAlert Albuquerque

Police search for missing man amid suicide threats

Albuquerque Journal
Thursday, March 7th, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Police are searching for a man who went missing Thursday morning and called in to a veteran’s suicide hotline.
Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said 28-year-old Joseph Hall left home on foot, taking a gun with him but leaving his wallet, phone and keys behind.

He said Hall called a Veteran’s Affairs suicide hotline, around 4 a.m., and made threats.

“Family and friends have not been able to locate Joseph,” Gallegos said.

Hall is described as 5 feet 7 inches, 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with any information on Hall’s whereabouts is asked to call (505) 242-COPS.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bored Florida High School Student Called Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline!!!!

Student, bored in class, prank calls veterans' suicide hotline
USA Today
Pamela McCabe
October 26, 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A Lee County student is in trouble at school after making three false reports to a suicide prevention hotline for veterans — all because he was bored in class.

The student, who hasn't been identified, attends Ida S. Baker High School in Cape Coral and used his cellphone to log into the Veterans Crisis Line.

The student first logged into the hotline Oct. 18, when he reported that he "had a gun and was going to kill themselves," a report from the Lee County Sheriff's Office states.

A district IT staff member, who was contacted by the hotline, was able to track the phone, a Samsung Galaxy S8, to one of three classrooms on campus.

The onsite deputy for the school alerted the teachers so they could be aware of the situation.
The same cellphone contacted the hotline again on Monday, roughly an hour into the school day. This time the student falsely reported that they had "cut their wrist and were bleeding out" at a McDonald's in Seattle.
read more here

What would this kid think if he had to explain to the family of a veteran, who did commit suicide, why this seemed like a fun thing to do?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

35 to 40 Percent of Crisis Calls Rolled Over?

Veterans Affairs suicide hotline leaves many calls unanswered, legislators told
Tales of idle staff and cries for help buried in voicemail spur the House to pass a corrective bill.
Associated Press
Matthew Daily
September 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — More than one-third of calls to a suicide hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the hotline’s former director.

Some hotline workers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end, even as crisis calls have increased sharply in recent years, said Greg Hughes, the former director of the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line. Hughes said in an internal email that some crisis line staffers “spend very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity.” Coverage at the crisis line suffers “because we have staff who routinely request to leave early,” he said.

An average of 35 to 40 percent of crisis calls received in May rolled over to back-up centers where workers have less training to deal with veterans’ problems, said Hughes, who left his post in June, weeks after sending the emails.

The House on Monday unanimously approved a bill requiring the VA to ensure that all telephone calls, text messages and other communications received by the crisis line are answered in a timely manner by an appropriately qualified person. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, the bill’s sponsor, said a veteran in his district told him he repeatedly received a busy signal when he called the crisis line this spring. The man later got help from a friend, but “this hotline let him down,” Young said. “A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable.”
read more here

Hmmm, ok how about back in 2015 there was a report about this too.but they outsourced care.
In 2013 there was a veteran told to call back on Monday and he wondered if that meant he can kill himself then.

And then in 2011 they took in a record number of calls.
But within all this are a couple of overlooked factors. First, Congress has been holding hearings on all this all along going back to 2007 with the bill they wrote starting all this prevention, oh, and then writing more of them, spending more money on repeats when they couldn't that the first one right. The other factor is just as simple. We're still talking about "raising awareness" as if nothing has been done before, when in fact, it has all been done to death. Their deaths.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Suicide Prevention Month: #BeThere

Suicide Prevention Month: #BeThere
VA Highlights Initiatives to Prevent Veteran and Servicemember Suicide

WASHINGTON – Today marks the start of Suicide Prevention Month and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is asking for the entire nation’s help in reducing Veteran suicide. VA is calling on community leaders, supervisors, colleagues, friends, and family members to BeThere for Veterans and Service members starting with a simple act, which can play a pivotal role in preventing suicide.

“You don’t have to be a trained professional to support someone who may be going through a difficult time,” said Dr. Caitlin Thompson, Director of the VA Office of Suicide Prevention. “We want to let people know that things they do every day, like calling an old friend or checking in with a neighbor, are strong preventive factors for suicide because they help people feel less alone. That’s what this campaign is about - encouraging people to be there for each other.”

The campaign also highlights VA resources that are available to support Veterans and Servicemembers who are coping with mental health challenges or are at risk for suicide, and it encourages everyone to share these resources with someone in their life.

“We hope our Suicide Prevention Month efforts help educate people about the VA and community resources available nationwide,” said VA Under Secretary for Health David J. Shulkin, M.D. “We’re committed to working with experts and organizations across the country to identify ways we can help Veterans and Servicemembers get the care they deserve and to expand the network of mental health support.”

Veteran suicide data released by the VA Office of Suicide Prevention in early August 2016 serves as a foundation for informing and evaluating suicide prevention efforts inside the VA health care system and for developing lifesaving collaborations with community-based health care partners.

VA plans to host a series of roundtable discussions with key stakeholder groups in the coming months as part of its plan to develop a public health strategy for preventing Veteran suicide. In August, VA hosted its first roundtable discussion, “Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business,” with corporate sector partners. In September, VA will host the Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Innovations event, which will bring together a community of experts from business, industry, academia, and government agencies to collaboratively identify solutions for reducing suicide rates among Veterans and Servicemembers. In addition, new programs such as REACH VET are being launched nationwide in September to identify Veterans in VHA care who may be vulnerable, in order to provide the care they need before a crisis occurs.

For more information about VA’s suicide prevention efforts:

Suicide Prevention Month website:
Suicide Prevention Month toolkit:
Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet
VA’s Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1; chat online at or text to 838255 — even if a Veteran is not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care.
Make the Connection website:
VA Mental Health website:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Preventing Suicides Or Preventing Truth?

How Can They Expect We Care if We Repeat a Lie?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 10, 2016

There is a huge difference between a mistake and a lie.  When the subject is the number of veterans committing suicide instead of healing, we can't afford either one.  How the hell can any of us expect them to believe we care enough if we keep repeating the same lie of "22 a day" commit suicide? 

Too many don't even care enough to learn the basics and even less care about what has already been done over the last 40+ years.  I thought I'd seen it all in the 80's but this is beyond what should ever be acceptable to anyone!

They know the truth far better than all these "awareness" raising running around the country but since we waste so much time on the bad results too many can't even get right, we're not talking about how many survive their attempts, what it does to their families or the biggest thing of all, the simple fact that they can heal instead of suffering to the point where they would rather die than try.

On Stars and Stripes there is a article you should read. VA aims to improve beleaguered suicide prevention efforts but we've heard it all before and before that and before that.
"A dearth of reliable veteran suicide data has been a persistent problem for the VA. The oft-cited statistic that 22 veterans commit suicide each day is based on a four-year-old report that cautioned the number might be inaccurate. A more recent study put the rate of suicide among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at roughly one per day, still 40 to 50 percent above the rate of the rest of the country."
Actually that is about current military and not "veterans" that everyone keeps talking about. 3rd Quarter 72 Active and 70 Reserves But when you look at the second quarter you'll see these numbers are worse compared to other years but only if you factor in there are less serving than during the other years. There are over 900 attempted suicides as well, but why count them?

2nd Quarter Suicide Report
"VA officials said they have been working with the Department of Defense and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to come up with definitive suicide statistics from 1979 to 2014, which they hope to release in June."

And according to the CDC there are over 41,000 Americans committing suicide every year.  Each state says that the number of veterans committing suicide is double civilian rate, which means we're missing thousands a year when we allow folks to simply repeat "22 a day" and that is wrong.  

This is a copy of a post Wounded Times published back in 2013.

Veterans committing suicide at twice the rate of civilians
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 5, 2013

We need to start getting some answers on how Veterans charities are taking in a billion a year while the number of suicides go up, attempted suicides go up and veterans all over the country are discovering being back home is worse than combat. We need to start getting some answers from the military on how they spend a billion a year, or more, on prevention and "resilience" training when all the numbers in all branches contain more suicides and attempted suicides within the military as well as when they come out and become veterans. Yes, we can tie the majority of the suicides of veterans to the same "troops" trained by the FUBAR programming that started in 2006 and morphed into "resilience" training in 2009.

We need answers because these are the results of what they have been getting away with for far too long.

"Oklahoma veterans and active-duty military personnel are killing themselves at twice the rate of civilians, despite increased efforts to address the problem."

"The rate of suicide among military veterans in Arizona is more than double the civilian rate. Advocates say veterans need more than benefits when returning from war. The average veteran suicide rate in Arizona from 2005 through 2011 is almost 43 deaths per 100,000 people. That’s according to data compiled by News21, a national reporting project based out of Arizona State University. And the rate should increase as more veterans return home."

Last week in Montana a 62 year old veteran went to the VA, entered the men's room, pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head. That same night over in Lubbock, a Marine veteran was taken into custody by a SWAT Team standoff.

In Massachusetts a veteran with PTSD got into his truck and drove it into a convenience store. This was captured on video.

In Washington DC Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter received the Medal of Honor for saving lives in Afghanistan but he has also been trying to save the lives of other veterans like him with PTSD. This came a day after the Department of Defense released the Army suicide report. As of the end of July 94 soldiers, 58 Army National Guardsmen and 32 Army Reservists committed suicide. All of this comes after the Pentagon spent over $4 billion on mental health.

Out of Wisconsin news came that domestic violence incidents involving veterans was on the rise. "There are tens of thousands of domestic abuse incidents every year in southeastern Wisconsin. As wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the number involving veterans is growing."

Danny Weiss, a 2004 graduate of Naperville Central High School, killed himself in 2012 after three deployments in the Army.

There is a great piece on the Huffington Post about military suicides. They could have saved tax payers $677,000 that went to the University of Kentucky to study how families feel after suicide. Yes, you read that right. The problem is while veterans charities have become a billion dollar a year industry, the government has been spending over that every year and it is almost as if they haven't paid any attention to all of this at all. Army Specialist Cody Baker of Kentucky, an Iraq War veteran committed suicide August 19, 2013.

"The tragedy of suicide is not only the loss of an individual, but the profound grief that is left when someone chooses to die by suicide. This summer, The Huffington Post asked relatives of military members and veterans who died by suicide to tell their stories. They are mothers, fathers, grandfathers, men and women, ordinary Americans who are, as one put it, members of a group you never want to be part of. They hope their stories will help other suicide survivors find comfort, and will convince those at risk of suicide to seek help now."

Master Chief David Ellingson sat down with his wife to watch a movie, went into the bathroom and shot himself in the head. The community is holding an event "Coming Out of the Dark" but no one seems to have their high beams on. Families blame themselves because no one told them what they needed to know to help these men and women heal. How do they go from wanting to stay alive during combat, doing everything possible to save the lives of their buddies, to coming back home and not wanting to live one more day?

My God! Has any of this sunk in? Back in the 70's and 80's there were plenty of excuses when Vietnam veterans were coming home and killing themselves. The last study done on them found 200,000 had committed suicide but that was in the 90's. In 2007 this came out, "Up to 80% are older veterans who served in Vietnam and Korea and suffer from anxiety, anger or depression." This was followed by this piece of news. "In the past 18 months, 148,000 Vietnam veterans have gone to VA centers reporting symptoms of PTSD "30 years after the war," said Brig. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, deputy commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He recently visited El Paso."

I've seen way too much damage done in my own family. I almost lost my husband. We lost his nephew to suicide. They were the same age in Vietnam. It happened before September 11th, before troops were sent into Afghanistan and Iraq and long before the military was doing something about suicides. As much as I blame myself for not being able to get Andy to listen to me it haunts me every time I read another report on another suicide or hear from a family member blaming themselves. It hurts even worse to know how no one is being held accountable. We ran out of excuses a long time ago.

"NEW YORK CITY, September 7, 2005—A ground-breaking study conducted by Dr. Joseph Boscarino, a Senior Scientist at The New York Academy of Medicine and Associate Professor of Medicine at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, found that U.S. Army Vietnam veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had twice the rate of post-service deaths 30 years after military service, when compared to other veterans."


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.

I don't know about you but they should have meant a hell of a lot more than being represented by "just a number" as the oblivious snap back with when confronted with the facts.

Nothing has changed because too many have been treated like they do not exist by the same folks pretending to be "doing something" while they couldn't even be bothered to pay attention to all of them.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Tom Young Committed Suicide After Waiting for Help

"There is no voice mail today, I can assure you of that. That's unacceptable. That was done by a contractor," said Dr. David J. Shulkin, Undersecretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Pretty much sums up why veterans like Tom Young turned to the VA for help to live only to be left waiting.

It happened to Tom Young when he called and when they called him back the next day, it was too late to listen to him.

ABC 7 News Chicago

By Chuck Goudie and Christine Tressel
Thursday, March 03, 2016

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A staple of the American military is to "leave no man behind" on a foreign battlefield.
Army veteran Tom Young was left behind by the VA, according to his family. They say Young asked the Veterans Administration for help on four occasions, but only received phone calls back after he was dead.

This is a story that we begin at the end. July 23rd, 2015. Tom Young is struck and killed by a Metra train headed to the northwest suburbs.

"He took his life," says Will Young, Tom's brother. "And, uh, the day after, we got a call from the VA that, um, a bed was available and then about 20 minutes later, we got a call from the suicide hotline returning his call."

The 30-year old had apparently called the VA'S suicide hotline, leaving a message that he needed help. Someone from the hotline called him back a day later, after he had put himself in the path of the Metra train.
read more here

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Suicide Prevention Not Preventing Them

Sen. Mark Kirk wants the head of VA Mental Health fired? Ok, but what had the Senate or the House done after all the complaints came in over the years going back to when this started in 2007?
Senator to VA: Fire your mental health director
Military Times
By Patricia Kime
February 22, 2016

Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk has called on the VA to fire its mental health director after an investigation found that calls made to the department’s suicide hotline went unanswered.

In a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald on Monday, Kirk, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees Veteran Affairs Department spending, said Dr. Mary Schohn should lose her job over problems at the Veterans Crisis Line, which include veterans being placed on hold or sent to voicemail.

VA officials have said the problems stemmed from routing calls to backup centers when the New York based line was overloaded.

Employees at the backup centers were unaware they had a voice mail system, according to the report. Investigators also raised concerns over staff training and the qualifications and training of backup center personnel.

VA officials said Wednesday improvements have been underway at the hotline since early 2015 and more are planned. They also said they would implement the recommendations of the VA IG by the end of the fiscal year.
read more here
Perhaps the biggest question is, if all these veterans were calling the crisis line, then why do we keep losing them to suicide?
"The volume of calls to the crisis line increased 30 percent over the course of just one year, from 287,070 in 2013 to 374,053 in 2014, while the backup centers saw a 112 percent increase, from 36,261 in 2013 to 76,887 in 2014."

Think about that for a second. Actually the numbers would be even higher and that is the most important factor in all of this especially when you consider all the "awareness" raisers running around the country talking about the problem and asking for money.  Too bad they never talk about the solutions at the same time they haven't even put in enough thought to discover the simple fact they don't have a clue what the real number is.

Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Report
To date, data from twenty-one (21) states have been cleaned and entered into a single integrated file containing information on more than 147,000 suicides and 27,062 reported Veterans.
In addition to the issues identified above, barriers to full project implementation include inconsistent availability of requested information in all states, barriers to providing non resident data and sending preference to provide de-identified data due to conflicting interpretations of Social Security laws. Negotiations with states are continuing as we begin requesting more recent years’ data as well as renewing or revising previously completed Data Use Agreements.
The ability of death certificates to fully capture female Veterans was particularly low; only 67% of true female Veterans were identified. Younger or unmarried Veterans and those with lower levels of education were also more likely to be missed on the death certificate.  

This decreased sensitivity in specific subgroups can affect both suicide surveillance and research efforts that utilize Veteran status on the death certificate. From a surveillance standpoint, the rate of Veteran suicides will be underestimated in these groups.

According to data provided by the United States Census Bureau, 93% of all Veterans are male and 21% of all males aged 18 years and older have history of U.S. military service.
When this is pointed out to them, they snap back with "it's just a number" insisting on using it because "it's easy to remember" but they seem to have forgotten, they were not just numbers they don't have to really think about. They were sons, daughters, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, parents and friends. If they didn't bother to read the whole report, that pretty much sums up how much effort they put into learning before they started talking.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Veterans In Crisis Waiting On Hold Still After All These Years?

Gee sounds really bad to put veterans on hold when they are in crisis. It is ever worst when you understand this all started back in 2007 with the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act and Congress has been hearing about all of this for years. Just take 2010 for example. Answering the bell
The number of calls to the national Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua in the past six fiscal years:
2007: 9,379
2008: 67,350
2009: 118,984
2010: 134,528
2011: 164,101
2012: 193,507
Troubled vets need help sooner, lawmakers told
Army Times
By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jul 14, 2010
“The suicide hotline is too much of a last alternative,” said Melvin Cintron, an Army veteran who served as a flight medic in Desert Storm and in aviation maintenance in the current war in Iraq. “Either you don’t have enough of a problem and you can wait for weeks for an appointment, or you have to be suicidal.”

Cintron spoke Wednesday before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s oversight and investigations panel.

In Florida there was this
Military, veteran suicides account for nearly one in every four in Florida ... but the numbers don't explain why
Rate is one of the nation's highest
Florida Times Union
By Clifford Davis
Apr 26, 2014
“Since its inception, the crisis line has had over 1,150,000 calls,” said Thompson of the VA’s suicide prevention program. “That’s pretty extraordinary. We’re so glad we’ve had that many calls, but of course it’s heartbreaking that people need to reach out that much.”
And in May of 2015 there was this tidbit of news,
Senator Bill Nelson Calls for Veterans Crisis Line Investigation
VA Crisis Line under investigation
Military Times
By Patricia Kime, Staff writer
May 2, 2015

Amid concerns that the Veterans Affairs Department's suicide hotline has left veterans stranded during high-volume call periods, a senator has asked VA to investigate the service to ensure it is meeting veterans' needs.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., recently sent a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald asking for data on the Crisis Line's call volume, hold times, and average wait times between when a call is made and the caller can see a VA therapist or counselor, or a community provider, in person.

Nelson's request was made in response to a news report by Tampa television station WFTS that Air Force veteran Ted Koran was placed on hold repeatedly for up to 10 minutes at a time as he fought off suicidal thoughts.
Yet now we have the same headline as it happens to even more veterans.
Calls to veterans suicide hotline went to voicemail, report says 
Military Times
By Patricia Kime
February 15, 2016

At least 23 veterans, troops or family members who called the Veterans Crisis Line in fiscal 2014 were transferred to a voicemail system and their calls never returned, according to a Veterans Affairs Department Inspector General report.

The VA watchdog's investigation into the hotline's performance launched last year also found that the centers responsible for the voicemail errors, who were contractors hired to provide backup services when the VA-run Crisis Line is operating at peak, may not have trained their counselors adequately to answer calls from those experiencing a mental health crisis.

But because the VA does not train the backup center employees or monitor the centers' training requirements, the department has no way of knowing whether their training is sufficient, the report noted.

The Veterans Crisis Line was established in 2007 to address the growing problem of suicide among veterans and service members. It has fielded more than 2 million calls and is credited with saving more than 50,000 lives. An HBO documentary highlighting the life-and-death drama of the VA suicide hotline efforts won an Oscar last year.
read more here

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Death of Titus Latchison Ruled Homicide

Death of Killeen veteran shot by police in 2014 ruled a homicide
Killeen Daily Herald
Jacob Brooks
Herald staff writer
November 16, 2015
On the day he was shot, Latchison called a suicide hotline threatening to kill himself, according to the report. “When police arrived, the decedent began throwing knives and was subsequently shot by officers.”
Titus Latchison served in the Army for 13 years as an aviation fueler, and deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, his family said. Family members said Latchison suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, but he denied it for years.
The death of Titus Latchison, a troubled Army veteran who threw knives at police outside his Killeen home in 2014, was ruled a homicide.

Latchison, 37, a sergeant who got out of the Army at Fort Hood in 2011, was shot by a Killeen police officer on April 4, 2014, outside his home in the 4500 block of Golden Gate Drive in Killeen. Latchison died Sept. 4, 2015, at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Temple.

An autopsy was performed by the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences at Dallas.

Although Latchison died almost a year and a half after he was shot by police, the institute found that the injuries caused by the shooting resulted in his death.

“Based on the case history and autopsy findings, it is our opinion that Titus Romale Latchison, a 37-year-old male, died as a result of the sequelae of remote gunshot wounds,” according to the autopsy report.

On the day he was shot, Latchison called a suicide hotline threatening to kill himself, according to the report. “When police arrived, the decedent began throwing knives and was subsequently shot by officers.”
read more here

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.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Senator Bill Nelson Calls for Veterans Crisis Line Investigation

VA Crisis Line under investigation
Military Times
By Patricia Kime, Staff writer
May 2, 2015

Amid concerns that the Veterans Affairs Department's suicide hotline has left veterans stranded during high-volume call periods, a senator has asked VA to investigate the service to ensure it is meeting veterans' needs.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., recently sent a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald asking for data on the Crisis Line's call volume, hold times, and average wait times between when a call is made and the caller can see a VA therapist or counselor, or a community provider, in person.

Nelson's request was made in response to a news report by Tampa television station WFTS that Air Force veteran Ted Koran was placed on hold repeatedly for up to 10 minutes at a time as he fought off suicidal thoughts.

According to the report, Koran's wife died of cancer last year and he was despondent the day he made the call.

But when he dialed, he was placed on hold numerous times. After he reached a counselor, he said he did not feel comforted, according to the report.

"They had me on the [verge] of saying to hell with it," he said, according to WFTS.

Since its creation in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has fielded more than 1.6 million calls and is credited with 48,000 rescues, according to VA.
read more here Here is the story of what happened that time.
Veteran says he was repeatedly put on hold by veterans' suicide hotline
Hotline has problems with handling number of calls
ABC News
Adam Walser
Apr 13, 2015

He put himself in danger to protect our country, but when he needed help to save his own life all he got was a recorded message. Ted Koran was thinking about committing suicide Saturday night.

He reached out to the VA and the Veterans Suicide Hotline for help, but said he couldn't get any until after he was repeatedly put on hold for up to 10 minutes at time.

Veterans in Crisis: Vets put on hold for 36 minutes His case is just the latest the I-Team has been exposing for months now.

When the Veterans Crisis Hotline was first set up by the VA in 2007, it averaged 60 calls a day on four manned phone lines.

Now, 52 operators at a time field about a thousand calls a day, and that's not always even enough to keep some veterans on the verge of suicide from being placed on hold.
read more here

And before that
Veterans describe runaround when calling crisis line; Texas man records 36 minutes on hold
Amanda Kost, Scripps News
Isaac Wolf, Scripps News
Feb 23, 2015

WASHINGTON D.C. - On an evening last March, 42-year-old Dedra Hughes’ thoughts turned to suicide.

The Army veteran, who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder five years earlier, had split with her boyfriend days before. She was unemployed and had stopped taking classes. And she was convinced her two daughters would be better off without her. Sitting on the floor of her suburban Chicago living room, Hughes attempted to slash her wrist but didn’t draw blood, and says she passed out from anxiety. Her 12-year-old discovered her there on the floor with the knife beside her.

Hughes decided that night to turn to the national Veterans Crisis Line, a 24-hour, seven-day-a week service that promises an immediate, open line to professional help. But when Hughes phoned, she said, her call went straight to hold. After several minutes, she became frustrated and hung up. “I would never call the hotline again,” said Hughes. She said she needed to quickly get to someone that night who could give her help and reassurance.
read more here

His story came out the same day this did.
Oscars 2015: Who Dana Perry Is and Why She Want Us to Pay Attention to Suicide
ABC News
Feb 23, 2015

While accepting the Oscar for best documentary short subject, director Dana Perry said suicide should be talked about "out loud," dedicating the award to her son.

During her acceptance speech on behalf of "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1," the music abruptly cut off when Perry mentioned her son, Evan Scott Perry, who committed suicide at age 15 in 2005. "I lost my son," Perry told reporters after the speech.

"We need to talk about suicide out loud to try to work against the stigma and silence around suicide because the best prevention for suicide is awareness and discussion and not trying sweep it under the rug."

Perry also mentioned veteran suicide in her Oscar speech, which she called "a crisis." Tonight's Oscar-winning HBO documentary, directed by Perry and Ellen Goosenberg Kent, is about the Department of Veterans Affairs' 24-hour call center for veterans.
read more here

Wonder if they thought to include what else was going on?

This was part of the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act in 2007. Ever since then veterans have been complaining to members of Congress about what was happening to them when they did call. Not much changed. So now we get yet another investigation to be followed by even more hearings. No one seems to know when we get something that actually works.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Kids Hoax Used Veterans Committing Suicide

2 Minors Allegedly Involved In Billerica Suicide Hotline Hoax 
CBS News
April 4, 2015

BILLERICA (CBS) – Two minors were allegedly involved in a Billerica suicide hotline hoax on Saturday. Police were called about 4:15 p.m. from a National Suicide Hotline representative who said they received a call from a person claiming to be a distraught Billerica military veteran.

He was considering killing himself with a gun, police say.

“After attempting to get the individual to talk further, communication was lost and attempts to reestablish contact were unsuccessful,”

Deputy chief Roy Frost said in a press statement, adding that police were contacted shortly thereafter. read more here

Monday, April 28, 2014

Florida among the highest for veteran suicides

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 28, 2014

1,150,000 calls in the VA crisis line yet suicides are higher than before it started. The military suicides have increased after their "prevention" programs started. When we read a million and a half veterans called at the point of ending their own lives, it shows different things need to be done, not more of the same.

Too many veterans feel isolated when they leave the military. While the percentage of suicides in the military are up, the number of suicides is down because of discharges they no longer have to count.

Today I was in Melbourne to film hundreds of bikers escorting the Traveling Wall into Wickham Park. The Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion is one of the biggest events in the country. Most of the time events in Central Florida are attended by huge groups of veterans. We have the third highest population, slightly behind Texas at number two and California with the most.

Over the ten years I have lived here, it gets harder and harder to read reports like this. It isn't just the sadness from lives lost, but more knowing what is possible for so many others and wondering why all veterans don't find the same sense of family. Is it a secret hidden from them? Didn't anyone tell them that trying to "fit" back in with civilians is not worth the effort?

Had they really wanted to fit in with civilians, they wouldn't have been tugged to join the military. They would have done what everyone else was doing. Thinking of others is not what your average person does beyond their own families.

Volunteers give their time and their love but that is spare time. They don't really fit in with other groups of people never understanding what it is like to do what they do. Members of fire departments don't fit in with other groups. Police officers don't fit in with other groups. So why would veterans want to fit in with other groups?

There is a bond that goes far beyond what co-workers experience. Risking your life for the sake of someone else if something few appreciate and even less understand.

If you are a veteran in Florida, join up with other groups just like you and then you'll know, you belong right where you are, with others you can lean on and be there for them.

Reading this report with over a million calls to the Veterans crisis lines with a rise in suicides proves the need to have "family" standing by your side and they need you just as much.
Military, veteran suicides account for nearly one in every four in Florida ... but the numbers don't explain why
Rate is one of the nation's highest
Florida Times Union
By Clifford Davis
Apr 26, 2014
“Since its inception, the crisis line has had over 1,150,000 calls,” said Thompson of the VA’s suicide prevention program. “That’s pretty extraordinary. We’re so glad we’ve had that many calls, but of course it’s heartbreaking that people need to reach out that much.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class David Faithful dreamed of becoming a pilot but — with only a high school education — he knew that was not going to happen anytime soon.

Instead, he became a parachute rigger for ejection seats in Navy aircraft.

It wasn’t exactly what he wanted, but he did his job.

“He did OK with it for a while,” said his mother, Cindy Faithful.

She said her son battled bouts of depression since he was about 17. “He would go through spells where he was really good and then spells where he was not so good.”

Medication would help, but the 25-year-old Faithful knew if he agreed to take psychiatric drugs he would lose his security clearance and his job at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

“He said his life was a tragedy, a bad movie,” Cindy Faithful said.

“The night before he died, he came up to me and hugged me,” said Cindy Faithful. “He told me, ‘Mom, I really love you and I appreciate everything you’ve been doing for me. I think everything is going to be OK.’ ”

The next day his father found him inside his car — wearing his dress white uniform — in their garage, dead from carbon monoxide poisoning.

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.

“We’re still trying to figure that out,” said Caitlin Thompson, the deputy director of Suicide Prevention at the VA.

With such daunting statistics, it’s easy to forget that behind every suicide is a circle of family and friends that will deal with the pain and the often-unanswered question of why.

Increasingly, veterans who commit suicide are not men in their 50s and 60s. Suicides for veterans of that age group have remained steady or declined.

Yet, suicides by veterans from 18 to 29 have jumped from 40.3 to 57.9 per 100,000 from 2009 to 2011, a 44 percent increase, the VA announced earlier this year.
read more here

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Syracuse Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline answered 193,507 calls in 2012

There is an article on about the veterans suicide prevention hotline. Aside from getting the number of military suicides wrong leaving off 84 Army National Guardsmen and 42 Army Reservists from the total they used of 349, it is a good read. This part really should shock everyone. Even as the number of suicides has gone up in the military, it has also gone up in the veteran population.

Take a look at the years and the rise in the number of calls this center received.

Answering the bell
The number of calls to the national Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua in the past six fiscal years:
2007: 9,379
2008: 67,350
2009: 118,984
2010: 134,528
2011: 164,101
2012: 193,507

Do you need any more evidence what the DOD is doing and the VA has been trying has not been working? The fact these veterans reached the point where suicide seemed to be the only way out of the pain they are in should be forcing all of us to demand answers from Congress on what has been fixed and what the plans are to fix what hasn't been fixed. If no plans then they need to be held accountable for all of this. Our taxes pay to send them to war. Our taxes are supposed to fund what they need when they come home. How can they be allowed to produce these results year after year and NO ONE IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Veterans protest VA failures in Washington

There are things in this article that I am not sure about. There is reference to the number of homeless veterans that seems way out of whack, so please take that into consideration when you read the following. I thought it was important that there are veterans protesting what has been happening to them along with what happens with the Suicide Prevention Hotline. This part I do not doubt since I have heard many stories just like it when veterans call and are told to call back or someone will get back to them.
The Veterans Affairs Department Gets Occupied But Still Ignores
By William Boardman

On October 4, a small group of American veterans went to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Washington, D.C., to talk to officials there about veteran suicides, veteran homelessness, veteran joblessness, and other veteran struggles. No one from the department would talk to them then.

Even the contingent of Homeland Security guards blocking the door on October 4 wouldn’t explain to the veterans why they couldn’t come in. So, they stayed on the sidewalk in front of 810 Vermont Avenue, a few hundred yards from the White House, where they established Occupy Dep’t of Veterans Affairs. They’ve been there ever since, even through Hurricane Sandy.

After more than a month, Veterans Affairs officials still have not talked to any of the diverse group. Instead, the VA has continued low level police harassment and frequent power washing of the sidewalk, threatening to arrest anyone who interfered with the activity. Trinity Church in New York City used similar tactics against Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

Medic in Vietnam, Still Trying to Heal People

In a USTREAM video by Occupy Eye on Common Dreams that was primarily about the Tar Sands Blockade in East Texas, the coverage gets to the Veterans Affairs about 40 minutes in. There, a man who calls himself “Frosty,” a Vietnam veteran and former medic, with a bushy white beard, describes what it’s been like spending a month on the sidewalk trying to talk to the administration charged with looking after his welfare and that of his fellow vets from half a dozen American wars.

Articulate and friendly in demeanor, Frosty has intense things to say – for example, that the VA has only 19 suicide hotlines in the whole country, and that a caller reaches only a recording and is promised a callback within 24 hours. “The VA doesn’t care,” he says, noting that the suicide rate among veterans is currently estimated at 18 a day, and likely under-reported. This is demonstrated by an October report by the Department of Defense which cites 20 active-duty and 13 non-active-duty suicides in that month.

Like the other vets sharing the sidewalk in front of the VA, the first thing Frosty wants is to establish a veterans’ council that will have direct access to the VA, and to which the VA will have to be responsive. Some of the veterans are trying to work with Congress to make this happen, to improve VA response to all veterans’ issues, but especially suicides, homelessness, and joblessness.
read more here

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Judge orders more treatment for troubled vet with gun

Judge orders more treatment for troubled vet with gun
By Laurence Hammack
The Roanoke Times
November 24, 2012

Sean Duvall will continue to receive the help he sought the night of June 8, 2011, when the depressed veteran called a suicide crisis line - only to be charged with possessing the homemade gun he nearly turned on himself.

Federal prosecutors, who charged Duvall with four felonies after his call for help, asked Wednesday that he be kicked out of the Veterans Treatment Court. Duvall was placed in the program, designed to offer treatment to veterans struggling with substance abuse and mental illness, after his arrest sparked controversy earlier this year.

Duvall, 46, spent a week wandering around town in 2011, sinking deeper in depression and coming closer to using a gun he had made to kill himself.

After calling a toll-free help line run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Duvall agreed to wait in a parking lot at Virginia Tech until a police officer arrived. read more here

Monday, September 17, 2012

Preventing Suicide Among Veterans

Preventing Suicide Among Veterans
by KREX News Room
by John Dias
Story Created: Sep 17, 2012

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- Suicide is a crisis faced by too many veterans, and the Grand Valley is no exception. With September being Suicide Prevention Month, the Department of Veterans Affairs is stepping up its efforts.

Since day one, the VA has made a commitment to suicide prevention, but over the last couple of years, has taken a more public approach.

According to officials, nearly 18 veterans take their own lives each day across the country.

Though it's hard to tell exactly what the numbers are on the Western Slope, officials say the number is higher than other locations.

VA officials are trying to reduce the number by providing easily available support right away through their crisis line.

“When we look at the numbers, we know that they are high, you can't explain that away,” said Sonja Encke, suicide prevention coordinator at the Grand Junction VA. “When working with individuals that are having thoughts of suicide, treatment and talking about it goes a long way.”

Encke says what makes an effective crisis center work is mainstreaming suicide prevention, and letting people know there is support available.
read more here

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Almost half of crisis calls to suicide prevention are from OEF OIF veterans

VA Working with Returning Vets to Prevent Suicides
Almost half of all calls to the Veterans Affairs’ suicide-prevention program are younger vets, officials say.
August 31, 2012

A total of 126 San Diego-area veterans attempted suicide and 22 of them succeeded in the fiscal year that ends next month, according to Veteran Affairs officials.

The data comes from the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System Suicide Prevention Program in advance of National Suicide Prevention Week, which runs Sept. 9-15.

San Diego County is home to roughly 30,000 veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it’s those troops who are showing up in suicide statistics at a greater degree than others, according to the VA.

Almost half of crisis calls received by the VA’s suicide-prevention program are people who have served since 9/11, officials said.
read more here

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coming Home: Canandaigua VA Expanding to Stop Suicides

Coming Home: Canandaigua VA Expanding to Stop Suicides
By: Kevin Doran
Updated: May 21, 2012

America we have a crisis on our hands. Thousands of men and women who have served our country are killing themselves each year. These aren't just people coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Older veterans are committing suicide at an alarming rate. And an army of local responders is leading the nation's fight to save their lives and get them help.

When a United States Veteran anywhere in the world calls the VA's Crisis Line it rings here in Canandaigua. A highly trained Responder like Peter Grant is ready to help. "We listen intently in terms of what that veteran is communicating to us. Not only in their words but in their tone. um They may be crying, they may be in a crisis situation."

Peter served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. "Every day it's an honor to serve our veterans. And I keep that in mind when they call."

Doctor Caitlin Thompson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester and Coordinator of the VA's Veterans Crisis Line. There's no other place like this in the country. It's the heart of the government's response to an alarming number of Veteran's killing themselves.
read more here

Monday, February 20, 2012

A suicidal veteran’s plea for help could land him in jail

Aside from everyone being upset over this, it is keeping veterans from calling out of fear they will be arrested too!

A suicidal veteran’s plea for help could land him in jail

By Christian Davenport,

At the lowest moment of his life, Sean Duvall pulled out his cellphone just past midnight and called a suicide hotline. He was carrying a final note to his family, a letter confirming his eligibility to be buried in the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery and a homemade gun fashioned from a pipe.

He told the Department of Veterans Affairs counselor who answered the phone that June night that he was going to kill himself.

Stay put, the counselor urged him, after learning that Duvall had wandered onto the campus of Virginia Tech. Help is on the way.

Soon a police officer arrived and took the 45-year-old homeless Persian Gulf War veteran to a psychiatric facility, where he was treated for depression and began feeling better.

Had it ended at that, Duvall’s story would be evidence that the efforts to save veterans — who take their lives at a rate of 18 a day — are having an impact. But what happened next has infuriated veterans groups and mental health advocates.

Shortly after Duvall was released from the hospital, he found himself in trouble again. This time with the law.
read more here

Linked from Stars and Stripes
Original story
Another veteran arrested after calling crisis line
February 12, 2012
Suicidal veteran's case pits promise, federal law
After calling a crisis line for troubled veterans, Sean Duvall found himself charged with a weapons violation.