Wednesday, January 9, 2013

One in five West Virginia veterans at risk for suicide

W.Va. veteran health raises flags in survey
Associated Press
January 8, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — One in five West Virginia veterans are at risk for suicide while half show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or both, researchers told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The figures come from a recent survey of more than 1,200 state veterans, which also found higher than normal rates for obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, West Virginia University psychology professor Joseph Scotti said. The study was commissioned by the Legislature.

The findings prompted Scotti and the survey team to recommend a comprehensive plan to provide needed mental health services to veterans. Such a plan should include a public service campaign to alert veterans to available resources, educating health care providers and working more closely with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in the state, Scotti told the House-Senate Select Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

"The VA can't do it alone," Scotti said.

Close to 170,000 West Virginians are veterans, more than one in 10 adults, according to the latest estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau. Just 11 states have a larger segment of veterans among their residents. More than two-thirds of West Virginia's veterans are 55 or older, while around 7 percent have served since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the estimate.
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Study: Veterans struggle with depression, PTSD

About half of West Virginia's veterans are facing some type of depression or post traumatic stress disorder, and one in five struggles with suicidal thoughts, according to a study presented to a legislative interim committee Tuesday.

Dr. Joseph Scotti, a West Virginia University professor, on Tuesday presented the results of a survey of 1,200 veterans, to the Select Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The results show widespread mental health issues facing the state's veterans of all ages. About half of younger veterans have post traumatic stress disorder, while a quarter of older veterans have similar obstacles, Scotti said.

"If we look at the information in terms of the number of people who meet the clinical cutoff for depression and or post traumatic stress disorder, we're at 50 percent," Scotti said.

The survey looked at depression symptoms, such as sleeplessness, feelings of guilt, low self worth, lack of appetite, suicidal thoughts and more.
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