VA says it can predict which veterans are likely to commit suicide

The estimate of “22 veterans a day” committing suicide no longer stands, according to the latest data from a Department of Veterans Affairs study.

The VA released a report today that examined over 55 million veteran records from 1979 to 2014 from every state, finding that an average of 20 veterans died from suicide every day in 2014.

The “22 a day” figure was derived from a 2010 study that only included data from twenty states, according to ABC news. The new study found that veterans -who make up less than 9 percent of the U.S. population- accounted for eighteen percent of all suicides among U.S. adults in 2014.

About 70 percent of veterans who took their own lives were not regular users of VA services, according to the Military Times.

Many young veterans, who contested how the “22 a day” figure was stigmatizing the GWOT veterans as broken, suggested that most of the veterans committing suicide did not serve in the combat operations that have been conducted since 9/11.  The most recent data seems to back their assertion; about 65 percent of veterans who died from suicide were 50 years or older.

The VA says it can use “predictive modeling” to help determine which veterans may be at the highest risk of suicide so that health care providers can get involved earlier, according to ABC.

“Veterans in the top 0.1 percent of risk, who have a 43-fold increased risk of death from suicide within a month, can be identified before clinical signs of suicide are evident in order to save lives before a crisis occurs,” the VA said in a statement.

The VA stated it is working to offer same-day access for veterans with urgent mental health needs, claiming to have treated more than 1.6 million veterans for mental health in 2015.

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