Female veterans suicide rate now at alarming rate

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Speaking at the opening of the Cohen Veterans Care Summit in Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning, Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin acknowledged the growing problem in the rise of suicides among military veterans.

Shulkin was kicking off the conference, just prior to a Senate hearing intended to address steps that can be taken to prevent suicides. He explained the concerns about the growing suicide epidemic and how he plans to involve Congress in taking steps to address the problem.

“Suicide rates are increasing, close to 24 percent over the last 15 years, in the general population. They are increasing faster in the veteran population,” Dr. Shulkin said. “You can see, particularly among females, this is a dramatically rising issue for veteran females … 62 percent increase over the last 15 years.”

“What we’re doing across the country is really committing and energizing a more prescient approach to doing what we can to reduce suicides,” he said. “Every one of our medical centers has signed a suicide prevention declaration with 10 action steps that they’re committed to that they’re going to be implementing to reduce [suicides]. I will sign this declaration with my chairman and ranking member of the Senate in about 20 minutes now, prior to us going into our hearing on suicide prevention. But we are really trying to up our efforts to do everything we possibly can.”

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and last week, the VA released a new report showing alarming numbers in the suicide rates of veterans. Indeed, suicide rates are rising across the United States, in general, but the rise is most significant among the veteran population.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, over 42,000 people committed suicide, with at least 20 per day among veterans.

In the VA report last week, it was noted that, compared to the general U.S. population, the risk for suicide is 22 percent higher among veterans, with the risk among male veterans being 19 percent higher, and 2.5 times higher among female veterans.

Dr. Shulkin told the attendees at the conference that he would be meeting later at the White House to discuss the growing opioid epidemic, as well, to include how it is impacting veterans, and steps the VA has taken to put limitations on opioid prescriptions.

The Washington Times noted that:

The Cohen Veterans Bioscience and Cohen Veteran Care Network are nonprofit and research organizations started in 2015 by billionaire and philanthropist Stephen A. Cohen. The aim of the organizations is to advance the understanding and treatment of PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

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