Suicide rates among US military veterans are more than double what is reported by the Department of veterans affairs (VA) from the government, according to a new study released Sept. 17 by America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP).
AWP is a national nonprofit organization that aims to partner with communities to prevent veteran suicide, according to its official website.
The nonprofit partnered with the University of Alabama and Duke University to collect state-provided data on deaths while coordinating with the Defense Department (DOD) to establish military affiliation and “identify the commonalities of the person, the military service and his death.”
The study (pdf) is titled “Operation Deep Dive” (OpDD) and is described by AWP as a “former servicemember suicide and self-harm mortality study spanning eight states and five years of Department of Defense-corroborated death data.”
The states listed in the study are Alabama, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and Oregon. The Department of Defense data focused on male and female former service members between the ages of 18 and 64.
The five-year period runs from 2014 to 2018.
AWP found that the suicide rate among veterans over the five-year period was 1.37 times higher than the rate officially reported by the VA.
If all eight states and adjusting for age represented a national rate, there would be an average of 24 former service members (FSMs) dying each day from officially declared suicides, compared to the VA’s 2014-2018 average of 17.7 veteran suicides per day.
AWP also found that the VA has not accounted for self-injury mortality (SIM), which it said is predominantly attributed to overdose deaths.
Suicide rates are significantly higher
VA generally classifies deaths from self-harm as accidental or undetermined, but when accounting for deaths that are correlated with self-harm behaviors, the report says that 20 FSMs die per day from SIM and that more than 80 percent are “coded as deaths from MIS.” overdose”.
If the eight states listed in the study were to collectively represent the national rate, the combined death rate would be at least 44 FSM per day, which is 2.4 times higher than the VA suicide rate, according to the study.
The study authors said the difference in government-reported suicide figures is likely due to “underestimation of FSM deaths and the greater specificity of the decedent’s demographics, military experience, and death details available to OpDD.” ”.
He added that self-harm mortality must be included in any analysis of FSM and veteran death, while a number of improvements are needed when it comes to death reporting at the local, state and national levels.
Furthermore, the study also noted that individuals who served in the military for less than three years had the highest risk of suicide, while those who received a demotion during military service were 56 percent more likely to remove their life.
In addition, the study noted that former Coast Guard service members were most likely to die by suicide, followed by Marine Corpsthe Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
“Data indicate that FSMs have a higher risk of dying from suicide/SIM (self-harm mortality) or natural causes such as heart disease or cancer before the age of 64 than those who never served in the military,” the report states.
Better data needed
“If we’re going to make any progress in preventing ex-military suicide, we need better data,” Jim Lorraine, president and CEO of AWP, said in a news release. “Inaccurate data leads to a misallocation of very valuable resources. Operation Deep Dive is designed to address this.”
In a declaration told the Washington Examiner, a spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs said that its Annual Report on Prevention of Suicide it is “based on verified data from the CDC and the Department of Defense, and meets the quality and standards of a peer-reviewed publication.”
“The purpose of the VA’s National Suicide Prevention Report is to count all veteran suicides so that we can prevent all veteran suicides. Ending veteran suicide and saving lives is our top clinical priority at VA. We take every step possible to make sure our veteran suicide data is accurate, because the first step in solving this problem is understanding it,” the spokesperson said. “Our methodology for creating this report is well established and consistent.”
The Epoch Times has contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs for comment.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis or considering suicide, has mental health issues, or is involved in substance abuse, please dial or text the US Crisis and Suicide Lifeline , to 988 to speak with a counselor. If you are in the UK, call the Samaritans on 116123.
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