More Comprehensive Data Shows Lower Average Veteran Suicide Rate

Serious Concerns Remain About 20, Not 22, Suicides A Day

By Sandra Basu

WASHINGTON—A recent veterans suicide analysis indicates that an average of 20 veterans died every day in 2014—slightly less than a 2010 estimate—but VA is not “declaring that this is progress,” according to David J. Shulkin, MD, the agency’s Under Secretary for Health.

“I will not say that anyone should feel good about 20 suicides a day,” Shulkin suggested.

Using 2010 data, VA previously estimated that an average of 22 veterans died a day. While that statistic has been widely cited by advocacy groups and the media in recent years, its accuracy has been questioned because it is derived from veteran records from only 20 states.

The new figure, on the other hand, was derived from 2014 data from every state. It is contained in a report planned for July release that analyzed approximately 55 million VA records from 1979 to 2014.

VA touted the analysis as the most comprehensive ever on veteran suicide.

“So rather than doing estimates, we actually have exact numbers,” Shulkin told reporters in a teleconference.

In explaining the statistic, he said that 7,403 veterans took their lives in 2014 and, divided by 365, amounts to an average of 20.2 suicides a day.

Shulkin further noted that, with data now on all 50 states, VA will need to go back and determine whether the 22-a-day veteran suicide estimate based on 2010 data was accurate for comparison purposes.

“Today we can say accurately it is 20,” he said about the suicide statistics, emphasizing that the VA is “not saying this is getting better.”

“This remains a critical issue for us, and we are intensifying our efforts because of our concerns about this,” he added.

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  1. Mitchell Kant says:

    Just out of curiosity: The VA statistics about Veteran Suicides; Does this include those Veterans who were discharged under “Other than Honorable Conditions”, “Bad Conduct Discharges”, and other less than Honorable Conditions? It appears to me that many Veterans who have served their country have unfortunately received these types of discharges and therefore aren’t eligible for services with the VA! Many of these veterans had served their country honorably and in Combat Zones! Many had come home and made terrible mistakes, and will have to pay for these mistakes without the support they need! These are the veterans who are in the greatest danger of Suicide! So, I really wonder about “20 veterans” dying each day!

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