August 13, 2016
Experts spent enough years knowing no one will ever really know how many veterans commit suicide. As bad as the reported numbers of "22 a day" or the most recent "20 a day" according to the VA, there are far more no one ever puts into their spreadsheets.
CDC 10 Leading Causes of Death covers suicide by age group as well as other causes. The total in 2014 was 42,773 suicides in America. While most Americans face crisis situations, they were not "trained" to survive them. Young veterans were trained. Older veterans were not.
They have been trained in "prevention" for a decade yet these young male veterans are triple their peer rate on suicides. Young female veterans are twelve times their civilian peer rate. Every state has been reporting their suicide rate for veterans is double the civilian population and the vast majority of them are over the age of 50.
So look at the CDC numbers, use the math and you arrive at over 26,000 a year, but you are still not near the true number.
The word "veteran" is debatable and some do not consider themselves "veteran" if they were in the National Guard or Reserves or the Coast Guard.
Some were given less than honorable discharges and they are not counted.
Some "cause of deaths" are not so obvious like overdoes, single vehicle crashes and the ones who simply vanish.
Then there are the times when a veteran faces off with law enforcement. They are not counted as a price of providing retention of our freedoms.
Ron Smith turned to the crisis line. He ended up dead after a confrontation with police officers. They had to be called because he was suicidal. One of those nasty rules that have to be followed when someone is a danger to themselves or someone else. It is one of those things that we know we have to do because we cannot just say the words "we are raising awareness" and then go watch TV.
Folks working at the Crisis Line face far more every time they pick up the phone. They know the call could be something as simple as listening to a veteran in the middle of the night trying to make sense of a nightmare. Or a veteran needing to talk just because he needs someone to let him know he still matters.
It the right thing to do when there is a life on the line. It is also one of the hardest things to decide needs to be done or not. Guess wrong and either a veteran is pissed off because they were not "serious" or do not call and they pull the trigger.
Calling police means the veteran is facing a life or death moment but you also know you are subjecting police officers to it as well. Sometimes it ends up good, the veteran puts down the weapon, no shots are fired and he/she gets the emergency care they need to stay alive and be pissed off at you. Other times it does not end so great.
Ron Smith ended up dead and Kevin Higgins ended up dead too in Wisconsin.
In the last eight days before Kevin died, he tried calling six different crisis hotlines to simply vent his thoughts. Nicole’s phone shows multiple calls to the lines, though Kevin's phone is still in possession of the police and the crisis lines are anonymous.
“There was one, a combat crisis hotline that we found,” Nicole said. “And a veteran on there did speak with him from a little before midnight until like four in the morning… All he wanted to do was talk. He just needed an outlet.”
On July 17, Kevin robbed the Union Avenue Tap and raised an assault rifle at officers who responded, prompting them to fire six bullets into him.But it isn't just about calls to the Crisis Line. It happened in South Carolina when James Jennings Jr. ended up dead.
She doesn't blame the officers who shot her husband to death that night. She said the officers were just defending themselves from a crime, but that the incident could have been stopped long before July 17.
Kirk Shahan, Marine Iraq veteran faced off with police officers in Detroit. He ended up living and was taken to the hospital.
In California it was another suicidal veteran facing off with police
"deputies confronted another 26-year-old man — who they later identified as a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — after he was spotted waving a machete at passers-by in Shingletown, they said.
Dispatchers just before 1 a.m. received reports of the man waving the machete near Reed's Market on Highway 44.
Deputies found the man walking along the highway and spotted him holding a machete.
He put down the machete and knelt to the ground on deputies' orders, before putting a knife to his neck and telling deputies he wrote a letter, which they took to mean a suicide note, Ruiz said.
Deputies talked to the man in an attempt to get him to drop the knife, which he did after several minutes, according to the Sheriff's Office.
They detained the man, eventually learning he was a veteran from another California county who had been unable to find work since his release from the military, Ruiz said."
Month after month reports from all over the country come in and it all adds up to there are more dead after war than during them. What was learned after Vietnam has turned into a shorter life as "veteran" survivor because what experts spent years understanding so they could actually change the outcome has been tossed aside, much like our veterans have been.
If you want to know who is to blame for this suicide, this sums it up.
Davenport vet's suicide at center of VA talks
Woody's counterpart in Cedar County, Iowa, Patty Hamann, talked about the frustration of referring veterans to VA programs that no longer exist. Word didn't reach the trenches. She also talked about a VA doctor who died suddenly. Some vets had built an enormous bond with this psychiatrist and had been seeing him for years.Barb Ickes wrote that on Quad City Times today. She has been doing a good job of telling a story that did not have to happen. Brandon Ketchum became dead because too little attention has been paid to what has been happening all along.
"We eventually were notified by mail," she said.
In Brandon's case, Hamann said, someone should have reached out to him when he went home.
The 33-year-old was a Marine and Army sergeant and served three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. We know for sure that he asked for an emergency appointment. We know he was suicidal. He died alone.
Even though Brandon had been diagnosed with PTSD, was taking anti-depressants and had been battling alcohol and drug addiction, the Army sent him to Afghanistan for his third deployment.
Ask the Vietnam vets. They'll tell you that was crazy. They'll tell you it's no wonder so many of our young veterans are coming apart at the seams. The country has asked too much of them, and when they ask back, the country isn't there.
They are also to blame for many, more more. These veterans, along with current military, were trained in "prevention" yet it turns out they have been prevented from healing. But, hey, just keep talking about them as if they are just numbers. Anything that lets you sleep at night because facing the truth has been a nightmare for our veterans.