Drug Abuse And Mental Illness On The Rise Among Vets, New Report Finds

news
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Christine Cabalo

Editor's Note: This article by Amy Bushatz originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.


The number of Department of Veterans Affairs patients with diagnosed mental health or substance abuse issues increased between 2001 and 2014, according to a report on veteran suicide newly released by the VA.

Between 2001 and 2014, the rate of mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders climbed from 27 percent to 40 percent, the Aug. 3 report states.

Data on mental health and substance abuse were examined as part of the study, officials wrote, because those diseases are connected with a higher risk of suicide. But the study also found that the suicide rate among VA patients with those disorders decreased from 77.6 per 100,000 to 57 between 2001 and 2014 despite that correlation.

The report, the most comprehensive study yet on veteran suicide, is based on a review of Defense Department records, records from each state and data from the Centers for Disease Control, VA officials said. Highlights from the report were released in early July.

Related: 20 Veterans Died By Suicide A Day In 2014 »

"The effort advances VA's knowledge from the previous report in 2012, which was primarily limited to information on Veterans who used [Veterans Health Administration] health services or from mortality records obtained directly from 20 states and approximately 3 million records," VA officials said in a release.

Among early released findings was the conclusion that an average of 20 veterans take their lives each day, and that 65 percent of all veterans who committed suicide in 2014 were over age 50.

Veterans, the report says, accounted for 18 percent of all suicide deaths among U.S. adults, down from 22 percent in 2010. The risk of suicide is 21 percent greater for veterans than for the U.S. civilian population, it says.

Among a laundry list of actions the VA says it is taking to address the veteran suicide issue are expanding the Veterans Crisis Line, "predictive modeling" to determine which veterans are most at risk for suicide and "ensuring same-day access for Veterans with urgent mental health needs at over 1,000 points of care by the end of calendar year 2016," it said in a release.

The full report can be found here.

More from Military.com:

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less

Airman 1st Class Isaiah Edwards has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after a military jury found him guilty of murder in connection with the death of a fellow airman in Guam, Air Force officials announced on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less

It took four years for the Army to finally start fielding the much-hyped Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, and it took soldiers less than four days to destroy one.

Read More Show Less
Capt. Jonathan Turnbull. (U.S. Army)

A soldier remains in serious condition after being injured in the deadly ISIS bombing that killed two other U.S. service members, a DoD civilian, and a defense contractor in Syria last week, Stars and Stripes reports.

Read More Show Less

A Russian man got drunk as all hell and tried to hijack an airplane on Tuesday, according to Russian news agencies.

So, pretty much your typical day in Siberia. No seriously: As Reuters notes, "drunken incidents involving passengers on commercial flights in Russia are fairly common, though it is unusual for them to result in flights being diverted."

Read More Show Less