WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 16 veterans each day die of suicide, but there is help.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention has released its 2019 National Veterans Suicide Prevention Annual Report. The report shows various key results including that “45,390 American adults died from suicide in 2017, including 6,139 U.S. veterans.”
“Our nation is understandably grieving with each suicide, prompting our collective and tireless pursuit of evidence-based clinical interventions and expansion of community prevention strategies to reach each veteran,” the report stated. “VA offers through this report a renewed and determined call to unrelentingly address suicide in our veteran population and our society, as suicide has no single cause and the tragedy of suicide affects all Americans.”
Among the key results were that:
• The number of veteran suicides exceeded 6,000 each year from 2008 to 2017.
• Among U.S. adults, the average number of suicides per day rose from 86.6 in 2005 to 124.4 in 2017. These numbers included 15.9 veteran suicides per day in 2005 and 16.8 in 2017.
• In 2017, the suicide rate for veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-veteran adults, after adjusting for population differences in age and sex.
• The number of veteran suicide deaths per year increased from 5,787 in 2005 to 6,139 in 2017.
“Suicide prevention is a national priority and VA is dedicated to this mission,” the report stated. “While the data in this report extends only through 2017, since that time VA has continued to work actively in partnership with the White House, Congress, Veterans Health Administration networks, and federal and community partners to address the issue of veteran suicide. The most recent and notable manifestation of this comprehensive approach to veteran suicide prevention is the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS), mandated by an executive order signed by the president in March 2019. A cabinet-level task force has been launched to develop a national roadmap for suicide prevention, which will include proposals and plans addressing integration and collaboration across sectors, a national research strategy, and a cohesive implementation strategy.”
There already is some help for veterans including:
• The Veterans Crisis Line, which provides 24/7 crisis services for all veterans by phone, text messaging or online chat. It can be reached by dialing 800-273-8255 and pressing 1 or going online at veteranscrisisline.net.
• The VA has expanded its partnerships, with current partners representing hundreds of organizations and corporations at the national and local levels — including Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), professional sports teams and major employers.