VA Report Finds Western States Have Higher Rates Of Veteran Suicides

Published: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 3:30pm
Updated: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 7:28am
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The Department of Veterans Affairs released its most recent statistics on veteran suicide last week. They analyzed more than 55 million records from 1979 to 2014 — and the findings are grim.

In 2014, 20 veterans a day committed suicide in the U.S. It’s a daily tragedy in this country that’s been getting worse in recent years, not better.

For a quick take on the new numbers, I spoke with Reggie Yates. He's the chair of United Arizona Veterans, 55 veteran service organizations that lobby on behalf of programs that help veterans and their families.

Most veterans are older. In 2014, about 65 percent of all of the veterans who took their own lives were age 50 or older.

But there’s another story in the data: The rates of suicide among young veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are also on the rise. And that’s not the only surprising stat.

The VA found suicide rates among female veterans have also been rising quickly since 2001. In the VA analysis, female veterans were 2.5 times more likely to die by suicide than non-veteran women.

Megan McCarthy is the deputy director for Suicide Prevention at the Veterans Administration. She says they found the rate of suicide among veterans was 22 percent higher than it is in the civilian population.

I spoke with McCarthy more about the findings of this study, and we started by breaking down these numbers by region. The VA found that Western states have the highest rates of suicide and how the numbers here in Arizona compare to the rest of the country.

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