VA releases "deeply concerning" veteran suicide statistics

VA releases deeply concerning veteran...

The Deparment of Veteran Affairs released findings from its analysis of Veteran suicide data for 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

The release is part of the VA's comprehensive examination of more than 55 million records, from 1979 to 2014, which will be used to develop and evaluate suicide prevention programs across every state.

The study revealed that in 2014 7,388 veterans committed suicide.

"One suicide is one too many," El Paso VA Suicide Prevention Coordinator Bernard Wazlavek said. "It's very concerning."

Wazlavek's sentiment on the subject echoes the VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin who called the findings "deeply concerning." 

Texas' numbers contributed immensely to the national number. In 2014, 554 veterans in Texas killed themselves, which accounted for nearly 18 percent of the total for the year.

"Help is available," Wazlavek said. "Research shows with good behavioral treatment these issues can be addressed and someone can be saved."

However, statistics show that a majority of veterans who kill themselves are not seeking help from the VA, or help at all. "Of the 20 veterans that commit suicide a day, 14 are not under VA care," Wazlavek said.

Nationwide, the VA is hoping to change that. "This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach," Shulkin said.

"We are making a concerted effort to reach out and connect with veterans and connect with our partners in the commnuity to make sure they get the care they need and deserve," Wazlavek said.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts calls the Veteran Crisis line: 1-800-273-8255.

Nationally, the risk for suicide is 22 percent higher among veterans, when compared to non-veteran adults. "We believe it's due to the stress of military life, stress of wars, multiple deployments and some of the unique stressors that military life involves," Wazlavek said.

The Texas veteran suicide rate sits around 37 per every 100,000, which is more than doubl the states average for non-veterans of nearly 16.

"Help is available and the treatment works," Wazlavek said. "The vast majority of people who are suicidaly are in a crisis situation and if you can get them through a crisis situation you can save them." 

"Please if yuo know of a veteran who needs help reach out to [the VA] and contact us," Wazlavek said.