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Both chambers unanimously passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, sending the bill to the president for his signature. The bill aims to improve mental-health and suicide-prevention services at the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is named after a former Marine sniper who committed suicide in March 2011 after struggling to receive mental-health care at the Houston Veterans Affairs medical center.
Researchers said they had reached a point of statistical significance because there was enough variety in the states studied (by region, population, veteran population, gun ownership, etc.) and the percentage of veteran suicides remained consistent. However, they acknowledged “significant limitations” in their available data, including people incorrectly identified as veterans in death certificates.
A new study funded by the Army shows the suicide rate for veterans who served in recent wars is much lower than 22 a day. The study, published in the February 2015 Annals of Epidemiology, is the first large population-based study of post-service suicide risk among this population. Researchers used veteran records from two Defense Department databases, verified Social Security information and used the CDC’s National Death Index Plus.
Suicide is a serious issue, and a difficult one to tackle regardless of the population. When it comes to veteran suicides, there is little reliable and comprehensive data.