SOURCE: Paralyzed Veterans of America

Paralyzed Veterans of America

July 07, 2016 12:44 ET

America's Loss: 20 Vets a Day

New Study Reveals Accurate Veteran Suicide Statistics

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - July 07, 2016) - Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) today reacted to a new study published by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that found roughly 20 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide. The new study is being regarded as the most comprehensive suicide study ever conducted by the department.

"The previous study that placed the number at 22 suicides a day raised awareness of the mental health crisis among America's veterans," said Executive Director Sherman Gillums, Jr. "The new study goes more in depth and is based on more data, which helps us appreciate the true scale of the problem. Knowing the number is 20 instead of 22 does nothing to change the fact that we have a crisis on our hands."

The study's findings were based on a review of more than 50 million veterans' records from 1979 to 2014, in all 50 states. The Centers for Disease Control also contributed data to the 4-year study.

"Paralyzed Veterans of America is a partner for life for veterans with spinal cord injury and/or disease (SCI/D), and we consider mental health evaluation an integral aspect of good multidisciplinary SCI/D care," Gillums went on. "SCI patients depend on the VA system of care that treats them holistically, monitoring them over their lifetimes and consistently evaluating their progress, or lack thereof, for the hidden injury of mental illness. It is critical to focus as much on the mental injury of a newly paralyzed veteran as it is on the physical injury. All veterans should be evaluated on a regular basis, along with sustained peer mentoring, education, and timely treatment when needed."

The shocking updated numbers revealed in the study include that more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives in 2014, and roughly 65 percent of all veteran suicides that year were among individuals 50 years or older. From 2001 to 2014, as the civilian suicide rate rose about 23.3 percent, the rate of suicide among veterans jumped more than 32 percent. Researchers also found that female veteran suicide rates have risen more than 85 percent.

"Even one suicide is too many," concluded Gillums. "We don't see statistics, we see their faces. We know their lives have tremendous value, and policymakers should make it a priority to provide the VA with adequate resources to provide the mental health support our veterans need to realize that as well."

About Paralyzed Veterans of America:

Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For nearly 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (

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