A new study has found that an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day, representing a 20 percent jump since 2007. More than two-thirds of the vets who commit suicide are 50 or older, debunking any assumption that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are solely responsible for the increase.
While the number is in and of itself depressing -- 22 a day -- it does, in fact, have a silver lining.
First of all, the notion that there is some sort of veteran suicide epidemic is not true. The Washington Post reports that suicides across all categories are up; therefore, an increase in vet suicides is not surprising. They go on to say that the percentage of vets who take their own lives versus the national percentage has actually decreased since 1999.
That said, the suicide rate among vets is still three times the national average, and it's clear that something has to be done.
Which is why the information that there are 22 vets a day who take their own lives is important. For so long (and for whatever reason), the VA has done very little to monitor, let alone address and improve, the mental health and well-being of the men and women who served this country.
Perhaps this shockingly high number will spur change. There are already many resources for military men, woman, and families who are coping with PTSD, and those outlets, and hopefully the many more still to come, will result in fewer veteran suicides.
With the largest defense budget in the world, there should be more allocated to studies, programs, and results-driven organizations that aim to lower the suicide rate among military men and women. At this point, we're simply running out of excuses.
What do you think?
Photo via NYCmarines/Flickr