VA says suicide rates are rising, despite dropping averages

VA says suicide rates are rising, despite dropping averages

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - New research released Thursday by the Department of Veterans Affairs shows suicide rates are rising, despite average numbers dropping from 22 to 20 vets a day who take their own life.

Officials say it winds down to the fact that there have been less documented suicides in recent years, but veteran numbers have gone down as well.
This has made an overall increased rate in veteran suicide, despite numbers jumping down from 22 to 20 suicides daily.

"I will not say that anybody should feel good about 20 suicides a day, nor that we are declaring that this is progress," said Dr. David Shulkin, VA Undersecretary of Health.

Down from 22 to 20 estimated suicides a day, new research released Thursday by the department of Veterans Affairs is anything but good news officials say. A "crisis and critical issue" are words Shulkin are using to describe the new findings.

Since 2001 the rate of suicide rose 8.8 percent for vets getting help, while that rate rose even higher for those not getting care, a whopping 38.6 percent.
Dr. Shulkin adds that there is a major group of veterans "slipping through the cracks." Those are transitioning vets, something the Valley sees a lot of.

"Too many people are falling between the gaps after leaving active service and before they get into the VA and by nature of some of these illnesses, people retreat into social isolation and don't feel the ability to go out and get help until it's too late," said Shulkin.

While there are resources in the Valley like the federally-associated Vet Center, VA administrators don't have an answer yet on how they can tackle the holes in the system.

"This is a targeted area of need for us to close that gap so stay tuned for active interventions in that," said Shulkin.

The final report of their findings dating back to 1979 will be released later this month.

For crisis support call 1-800-273-8255. You can also text 838255 to talk to someone, or chat online for support for yourself or friends and family.

If you would like more information on the VA Suicide Prevention Program click here.

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