Sunday, February 24, 2013

Guns and mental health still as wrong as in 2007

Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act was signed into law by President Bush because the Congress had to act as if they understood the issues veterans were dealing with. I was just as wrong. In 2007 I was thinking Coburn was wrong "Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention bill blocked by Coburn" simply because the number one means of committing suicides was at the wrong end of a gun.
My husband's nephew used heroin.

I did a check to see what percentage of suicides are committed by guns and other means. There were 3,850,000 results to "top ten ways people commit suicide" search.

Google also provided this

Searches related to top ten ways people commit suicide
suicide garage
easy ways to kill self
suicide methods
quick ways to kill yourself
painless suicide methods
how to hang yourself painlessly
how to kill yourself quickly
what is the most effective way to kill yourself
This was the top answer from Harvard when I used "mental health" in the search.
Suicide, Guns, and Public Health
Most efforts to prevent suicide focus on why people take their lives. But as we understand more about who attempts suicide and when and where and why, it becomes increasingly clear that how a person attempts–the means they use–plays a key role in whether they live or die.

“Means reduction” (reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal means) is an important part of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. It is based on the following understandings

Many suicide attempts occur with little planning during a short-term crisis.
Intent isn’t all that determines whether an attempter lives or dies; means also matter.
90% of attempters who survive do NOT go on to die by suicide later.
Access to firearms is a risk factor for suicide.
Firearms used in youth suicide usually belong to a parent.
Reducing access to lethal means saves lives.

After talking to a lot of veterans after 2007, it was pointed out to me that my thoughts were way too limited. The bill ended up putting fear into veterans that if they sought help from the VA, they would have to surrender their guns. It kept them from going to the VA. The bill to supposedly save lives was in fact preventing them from going for help.

We now have a better idea of how many veterans are committing suicide. At least 22 a day are ending their own lives. Most do use guns. Medal of Honor hero Dakota Meyer tried to commit suicide with his handgun but it didn't fire. It is not as if they suddenly decide they don't want to be here anymore. The hope of better days takes time to be eroded.

Still when you look at the numbers, the whole view of them, you'll understand that the good intentions of this bill ended badly.

Military Suicides went up.
Veterans Suicides went up.

This is from the GAO
Number of Veterans Receiving Care, Barriers Faced, and Efforts to Increase Access from 2011.
In fiscal year 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provided health care to about 5.2 million veterans. Recent legislation has increased many Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans' priority for accessing VA's health care, and concerns have been raised about the extent to which VA is providing mental health care to eligible veterans of all eras. There also are concerns that barriers may hinder some veterans from accessing needed mental health care. GAO was asked to provide information on veterans who receive mental health care from VA.

In this report, GAO provides information on
(1) how many veterans received mental health care from VA from fiscal years 2006 through 2010,
(2) key barriers that may hinder veterans from accessing mental health care from VA, and
(3) VA efforts to increase veterans' access to VA mental health care. GAO obtained data from VA's Northeast Program Evaluation Center (NEPEC) on the number of veterans who received mental health care from VA.
The number of veterans represents a unique count of veterans; veterans were counted only once, even if they received care multiple times during a fiscal year or across the 5-year period. GAO also reviewed literature published from 2006 to 2011, reviewed VA documents, and interviewed officials from VA and veterans service organizations (VSO).

Over the 5-year period from fiscal years 2006 through 2010, about 2.1 million unique veterans received mental health care from VA. Each year the number of veterans receiving mental health care increased, from about 900,000 in fiscal year 2006 to about 1.2 million in fiscal year 2010. OEF/OIF veterans accounted for an increasing proportion of veterans receiving care during this period. The key barriers identified from the literature that may hinder veterans from accessing mental health care from VA, which were corroborated through interviews, are stigma, lack of understanding or awareness of mental health care, logistical challenges to accessing mental health care, and concerns about VA's care, such as concerns that VA's services are primarily for older veterans. Many of these barriers are not necessarily unique to veterans accessing mental health care from VA, but may affect anyone accessing mental health care from any provider. Veterans may be affected by barriers differently based on demographic factors, such as age and gender. For example, younger OEF/OIF veterans and female veterans may perceive that VA's services are primarily for someone else, such as older veterans or male veterans. VA has implemented several efforts to increase veterans' access to mental health care, including integrating mental health care into primary care. VA also has implemented efforts to educate veterans, their families, health care providers, and other community stakeholders about mental health conditions and VA's mental health care. According to VA officials, these efforts help get veterans into care by reducing, and in some cases eliminating, the barriers that may hinder them from accessing care. GAO provided a draft of this report to VA for comment. In its response, VA provided technical comments, which were incorporated as appropriate.
The GAO should have added in fear of losing gun permit.

When you look at those numbers understand what you're seeing. That many veterans went to the VA and we have at least 22 of them taking their own lives everyday. While that is sickening beyond reason to many, the vast majority of them are not a threat to themselves and even less are a threat to anyone else.

This morning I was reading irresponsible reports saying that the gun and mental health issues are new. That is what caused this post. The search for responsible answers on guns has focused on mental health but the reality is, much different than they expected it would be back in 2007 when congress wanted show they were doing something so they were willing to just do anything.

Suicide Prevention bills have not worked because Congress didn't understand it.

The means by which they commit suicide is important but not as important as why they do it.