20 Veterans Commit Suicide Every Day: VA
Most are over 50, according to 2014 data
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2016 10:27 AM CDT
A man salutes in front of a headstone at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery on June 25.   (Tommy Metthe/Abilene Reporter-News via AP)

(Newser) – The first official count of suicides among veterans is grim: 7,403 veterans committed suicide in 2014, or an average of 20 per day, according to Veterans Affairs, which reviewed data from every state. The group estimated there were 22 veteran suicides per day in 2010, but had never taken an official count, reports USA Today. The decline from the 2010 estimate is nothing to celebrate, according to David Shulkin, VA's undersecretary for health, who says the most recent number is "still far too high." Veterans accounted for 18% of all suicides in the US in 2014, though they made up just 8.5% of the population. About 65% of the veterans were 50 or older and 70% were not regular recipients of VA services, reports the Military Times.

Among male veterans aged 18 to 29, the suicide rate was 86 per 100,000 people; the US suicide rate as a whole is 13 per 100,000. The rate for female veterans aged 18 to 29 was 33 per 100,000. Suicide rates among American females jumped 40% from 2001 to 2014 but 85% among female veterans. "It is difficult to understand why that is happening. It is one of the things that I think will become a central research question for us," says Shulkin, who hopes to discover whether sexual trauma or combat service increases a woman's suicide risk. The VA says it is "aggressively" tackling the suicide issue, including by offering same-day service to veterans with urgent mental health needs, per ABC News. A final report on veteran deaths since 1979 is due out in the coming weeks.