Vet Suicides Underestimated, Skewed by State Data
Feb 01, 2013
by Bryant Jordan
A just-released Department of Veterans Affairs analysis of suicide among veterans indicates that the number of vets taking their own lives may be higher than the VA has previously estimated, and this may be particularly true among women vets.
According to the 59-page "Suicide Data Report, 2012," suicide statistics utilizing veteran data gleaned from state death certificates may prove too unreliable
That means the number of vets that officials believe have been killing themselves every day over the past dozen years is likely higher than the 18-to-22 they have estimated. A glaring flaw in the numbers is that state death certificates, used as an identifier when compiling suicide stats for veterans, are less accurate in noting the veteran status of women, younger and unmarried vets and those with lower education levels.
"The ability of death certificates to fully capture female Veterans was particularly low; only 67 percent of true female Veterans were identified," the report states. "Younger or unmarried Veterans and those with lower levels of education were also more likely to be missed on the death certificate."
The findings demonstrate the value of linking information from state death records to VA and DoD records through data sharing agreements, the report states.
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