Because drug overdose deaths are underreported and many veterans are not recognised as such by coroners or family members, a new study suggests that the suicide rate among U.S. military veterans may be twice as high as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates.
Researchers from the nonprofit America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP), which strives to prevent veteran suicides, collaborated with researchers from the Universities of Alabama and Duke to look at death statistics from census reports in eight states from 2014 to 2018.
The study found that thousands of drug overdose instances were misclassified as accidents despite signs that suicide investigations should have been conducted in these circumstances. The study claims that because the military background of the deceased was frequently unknown or not disclosed, there was a 25% undercount of veteran deaths.
The total mortality rate would be at least 44 (veteran fatalities) per day, which is 2.4 times higher than the VA suicide rate, according to the research, if these eight states collectively represented the national average.
According to America’s Warrior Partnership, increased data sharing could result in more precise statistics and possibly lower the suicide incidence among veterans.
According to AWP President Jim Lorraine, “These are all avoidable fatalities.” The mechanism used to track them and ensure an accurate count is more crucial because it can help us take preventative measures.
Additional findings from the study include the following: Suicide rates decreased with length of service in the military. A veteran’s likelihood of committing suicide increased by 56% after being demoted while serving in the military. The Coast Guard had the highest rate of suicide deaths among veterans, followed by the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Alabama, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and Oregon were the eight states that were examined.
In a joint public service announcement released on Friday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged veterans and active-duty service members to seek mental health assistance if they were contemplating suicide.
“It’s critical to keep in mind that there is hope. It is possible to prevent suicide, according to McDonough. And in terms of veteran suicide prevention and intervention, significant progress has been accomplished. But there is still much to be done.