VA Report Shows Young Military Veteran Suicide Rate On The Rise

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
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The Veterans Affairs’ National Suicide Data Report shows a continued increase in suicide rates for veterans ages 18 to 34, according to an early copy obtained by The Wall Street Journal ahead of the report’s Wednesday publication.

The suicide rate for younger veterans “jumped” from 40.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 in 2015 to 45 per 100,000 in 2016, according to the report cited by WSJ. The suicide rate among veterans ages 18 to 34 has been on the rise over the last decade, according to WSJ.

The suicide rate among younger veterans rose despite a slight decrease in the overall veteran suicide rate, which fell from 6,281 suicides in 2015 to 6,079 in 2016, according to the WSJ.

Roughly 70 percent of veteran suicides were carried out by firearms compared to roughly 50 percent of non-veteran suicides, according to the report.

The report also found that the 2016 suicide rate was “1.8 times higher among female Veterans compared with non-Veteran adult women, after adjusting for age.”

Even though veterans comprise 8 percent of the U.S. population, veteran suicides represented 14 percent of the national suicide rate in 2016, according to the report.

The VA’s last veteran suicide data report covered the years 2005 to 2015 and was published in June. The number of veteran suicides rose over 2005 to 2016, even though the veteran population fell by roughly 4 million, according to the report.

In response to the statistics, the VA said it will take steps including expanding its Veterans Crisis Line, hiring suicide prevention coordinators at every VA facility and flagging “high risk” VA patients on their Veterans Health Administration charts. (RELATED: Critics Blast Arkansas For Not Spending Enough Money To Tell Medicaid Enrollees About Work Requirements. It’s Just That Nobody Answers The Phone Anymore)

The report comes as VA Secretary Robert Wilkie is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill regarding “recent reform efforts with the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee” on Wednesday, reported the Military Times.

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