Veterans Respond to VA Suicide Data Analysis
Report underscores new vets priorities in tackling veteran suicide
Washington, D.C. (August 4, 2016) — Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) responded to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) analysis of its startling report on veteran suicide. Released last month, the groundbreaking report provided a comprehensive account of data accumulated from more than 55 million veterans’ records from 1979 to 2014. The recent report shows that 20 veterans still die daily by suicide, in contrast to previous estimates of 22 per day. IAVA calls on members of Congress to support the VA in swift implementation of the IAVA led Clay Hunt SAV Act which will provide life saving services and access to mental health care for veterans.
“To date, we’ve been trying to tackle the veteran suicide crisis with our eyes closed, missing critical data that IAVA has been asking for the last several years. The analysis of this data changes that,” said Paul Rieckhoff, President and CEO of IAVA. “Now with this comprehensive data, we look forward to working with VA, lawmakers and the next president to develop even better solutions. It will take comprehensive solutions bringing together government partners, the nonprofit industry and the laser focus of philanthropic and private partners to make an impact on the unacceptably high rates of veteran suicide.”
The 2016 comprehensive report advances VA’s knowledge from the previous report in 2012, which was primarily limited to information on veterans who used VA health services or from mortality records obtained directly from twenty states and approximately three million records. The new report encompasses all 50 states.
Since IAVA’s Campaign to Combat Suicide launched in the spring of 2014, more veterans are seeking help to address their mental health challenges. Over the past year, IAVA’s Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP) program has seen a 39 percent increase in the number of clients approaching the organization for support with mental health care. IAVA has laid out a detailed comprehensive plan for the nation to tackle suicide prevention which can be viewed in its Policy Agenda here.