Veteran Suicide Statistic ’22 Die Per Day’ Harmful, Incorrect

Veteran SuicideVA plans to release veteran suicide data later this summer that will be accurate, but the messaging around suicide reporting will likely change.

Apparent the statistic showing that 22 veterans kill themselves each day is inaccurate. The calculation does not include instances where the veteran committed suicide but “suicide” is not listed on the death certificate. It also ignored data from states with a high veteran population.

RELATED: Veteran Suicide Linked To Deficient VA Telemedicine


According to the Military Times, veterans advocates are behind the push for better data because they believe the “22 veterans per day” phrase is harmful.

Here this whole time I thought the act of suicide was harmful, no? Or the issues and hardships leading up to suicide?

Unfortunately, with the MyVA initiative, suicide reduction is not on the list of priorities for VA at the moment.

So what will happen with this new data?

Dr. Maureen McCarthy told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs that VA received statistics on suicide from the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Defense. She told Congress that the data should help provide a clearer picture on veteran suicide.

Here is what I think will happen given the combination of messaging issues and raw data.

RELATED: Veteran Suicide Linked To Malpractice Lawsuit

We will get data on suicide that will be impossible to aggregate without using a calculator so that VA will control the wording of the messaging on suicide.

There is a present push within journalism to not report on suicide because such reporting in itself increases the suicide risk… supposedly.

So whatever the real data is, you can likely count on it not being as clear cut as the “22 per day” phrase that some advocates claim is harmful. And, reporting on veteran suicides will soon never see the front page of any magazine or newspaper again.

Don’t believe me?

RELATED: Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide


Take a look into from Columbia University and its DART journalism center that claims use of certain word selections increase the number of suicides. It calls this phenomenon “Suicide Contagion” or “Copycat Suicide.”

Here is what DART says on suicide reporting:

More than 50 research studies worldwide have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. The magnitude of the increase is related to the amount, duration, and prominence of coverage.

Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death. Suicide Contagion, or “Copycat Suicide,” occurs when one or more suicides are reported in a way that contributes to another suicide.

Covering suicide carefully, even briefly, can change public misperceptions and correct myths, which can encourage those who are vulnerable or at risk to seek help.

RELATED: DART Center For Journalism & Trauma – Suicide

The guidelines for reporting on suicide there includes a “Do’s and Don’ts” list. The list advises against reporting on suicide using photos of friends and family in the act of grieving; do not use words like “epidemic” or “skyrocketing”; do not report on the actual contents of any suicide note, etc.

I have been told that this change in reporting has resulted in many news rooms nixing the act of reporting veteran suicides in any manner regardless of whether a real “epidemic” is occurring at some locations.

It sounds like the real tragedy will be the removal of suicide from the public mind and a resultant “brushing under the carpet” effect rather than addressing the issues head on without concern over political correctness.

Reporting in the manner suggested by DART would dramatically change the story narrative of the veteran who recently lit himself on fire outside a VA facility.

But doesn’t America deserve to see the face of what it is doing to our veterans?




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  1. Whether it be 2, 22 or 122, one is too many. I have struggled for and with my oldest brother through the VA Hospital maze. We are treated as if we have shown up at the front door of the charity hospital front doors. This was part of his pay package when he served in Vietnam. They denied the Agent Orange crisis blaming cigarettes,not even acknowledging PTSD and looking down their noses at these men for self medicating on booze and drugs, self infliction if you will I have bought him insurance now and we’ll never have to step through those doors again. In the highly acclaimed Texas Medical Center, in a facility that I’m sure the doctor it was named for is surely spinning in.his grave. The Michael DeBakey VA Hospital, Houston, Texas. Shame on you. I pity the vet’s who don’t have family support.

    1. I thank you for your post and very proud of you for loving your brother enough to try and save his life. Your post is a story that sadly is said everyday by some veteran.

      How is it many people say veterans matter and do nothing about it. Your brother and you should not have to go through such extreme’s.

      The VA has committed Genocide on a large scale and if they are ever prosecuted, of what I have read is the most they would receive is 10 Ten years and then will probably given a suspended sentence and rehired, with all back pay.

      We all know that the VA has broken many laws and if not held accountable, Please let the veterans seek care elsewhere where they can feel safe and the VA pay or close the doors.

  2. Here’s something, a:

    “‘America’s Prophet’ Says Revival Nation’s Only Hope”

    “Choice is not between 1 candidate and another, it is between God and Baal”

    published about 12 hours ago by Bob Unruh

    It has two video’s also. In my opinion, it’s a must read. Y’all should definitely watch the videos.
    He’s one brave soul denouncing Obama’s (illegal) executive orders! He does this in Washington D.C.!

    1. I dont even know how to take this all in . my husband who i have mentioned before who is recieving 60% with 50% for tbi ptsd. Was evaluated after informed could be decreased. He theng ot his results and continued at 60% he was just grateful and didnt read further. So almost a year later i come acrossed it and it reads has ptsd and intermitted tbi. Has insomnia and quick temper but not active duty related it was prior to deploymnt (lies).. So recently my husband had been going thru his downside moment due to stress at work. Life. Irratible. Unmotivated. Feeling worthless. Dont know who he is anymore as person. Guilty for living. Believes our 2 kids and myself is better without him. (not true). Then i seen an emotionless zombie is what its seemed like and h1 hour before kids were to walk in from school he says he loves us then walks to bathroon locking himself of course im begging and pleading i hear him cock it and its always loaded and i hear it jam. Thank god for the guardian who watched out for him. And now to think if my husband did get even that 10% increase to become unemployable then maybe we could have avoided this but things could have gone much worse. What can i do. Could never go against it

  3. Why veterans will fight to the death to defend their country and then roll over and give up when it comes to fighting the corrupt VA system is beyond me.

    Most of these suicides are from the younger veterans who didn’t know or didn’t believe that the government would screw them over. Must have been quite a shock to discover what older veterans already knew. I tried my damnest to keep from getting injured in Iraq and Afghanistan because I knew what a fight it would be with the VA to get benefits. I witnessed the WWII and Vietnam veterans get screwed out of their benefits and i knew what was ahead of me if I got injuried or disabled, but nobody warned these new veterans what was in store for them if they needed VA benefits. Warn them.

    Some veterans also just “give up” and want to exit because they’re tierd of the non-stop battle with the VA. Tierd of the denials, tierd of the appeals, tierd of the abuse, tierd of being in pain and just plain tierd of everything. I can understand that. But suicide is never the answer. There’s so many other things you can do to bring attention to your problems, like this forum for example. Before you let the VA make you exit this world, how about sharing your bad experiences with veterans who care, who been there and done that and know what your talking about and feel your pain.Tell everyone about it. Write your Congressman, post your problems on facebook, stand on the corner and scream it to everyone who passes by. DO SOMETHING….to let other know your hurting.

    I get it. It hurts. It feels like your helpless but your not. There are plenty of things to do and people who are willing to help you besides the VA. My mother always said “shame the devil by doing the right thing”.
    He hates that. Stand up for your rights and benefits. There are volunteer lawyers who will fight for your benefits. Network with VA watchdog sights and veteran forums. Your mission is to win over this corrupt VA system and not let it win over you. The battle isn’t over just because you came home. Your still a soldier, get out there and fight the red tape and find people who will help you. You can’t do it alone. Remember, your never alone as long as at least one brother in arms is still alive and this site is full of us. So, battle buddy, cheer up. He who laughs last, laughs the hardest. I fought for eight years to get 100% VA disability. It can be done. Don’t give up. Never give up.

    Sandy Hale, disabled combat veteran, retired nurse

    1. You can’t do it alone is right. Unless veterans in mass go to Washington and make demands !

      We are alone ! Our elected officials are out to lunch and act like ostriches and hide their heads in the sand.

      Their butts. Should be sore by now. Maybe they like being screwed.but we veterans don’t.

    2. @Sandy

      As namnibor would say, “Spot On!”

      We, on this site and other veteran’s site, ARE here to help! Tell us your stories. Vent here and not at the VA. They won’t listen. We will!
      We might even have information to help in the fight against VA!

  4. Won’t stop me from doing public speaking, bringing awareness of the suicide rate. Your right, I think that number is completely bogus and goes back to their words in 2012. I’ll still be raising funds for the Independence Fund, that treats Veterans with PTSD, Limb Loss, and other injuries and ailments. They utilize Neurological Retraining, Hyperbarics, and ARP Wave, which almost completely puts a stop to Phantom Pains. An organization that puts its money where there mouth is by paying for the treatments, the flight to North and South Carolina, puts you in a fully furnished apartment for 1 month, and gives you a check to pay for cost of food, along with paying for your family member or caregiver to go with you. Oh and provides wheelchairs like the Tank Chair, or Paragolfer or others, complete with attachment for your car to carry it. If you know someone in need, have them sign up at

    Good luck and God bless brothers and sisters. Tim

    1. If the VA would do their job there would be no need from outside help.

      Since their not. Thank God someone has the veterans back.

    2. Timothy You are totally correct They gave me $18,000 track chair I applied told them my story And there was’nt any wait time I had it within six weeks

  5. Diagnosing and treating “anosognosia”, particular the subtle kind that is so often missed, would be a great step toward reducing suicide. How would you like to live with the feeling that you have a demon within sabotaging every effort you make.

    Think about being intoxicated without the outward signs such as slurred speech, staggering etc. having had no substance to be intoxicated on and performing like the guy you try to get the car keys from on a night out on the town.

  6. Good post on lunatic thinking Ben.

    If reporting on suicide increases suicide, why not use the same logic on any number of topics like rape, murder, Black Lives Matter, special campus snowflakes, child abuse, etc? If reporting on an activity will increase that activity, then why not cease reporting on many activities that are harmful and show that it causes those activities to decrease?

    Why report on a politician lying? It will only increase it according to some pointy head perfesser.

    It certainly seems like many news rooms got the memo regarding Charles Ingram and many other veterans.

  7. According to the CDC, from 2013 data, there are about 113 suicides per day in the US, so if 22 of those are veterans, or about 19%, given that only about 0.05 % of the population serves, it is pretty clear there is a problem.

    What the news folks don’t tell you is that the majority of the 22/day are 50 plus year, with diminishing health, who are socially isolated and have easy access to a gun.

    It is a complex issue that needs great attention.

    I’ve seen a massive increase in screening and outreach to prevent veteran suicide where I’m at.

    I invite every vet who reads this to get with the Buddy to Buddy volunteer program. The reduction in social isolation, reaching out to just help each other think thru some challenges would make a big difference.

    If you don’t have this in your area, steal it and start it.

  8. Why are they killing themselves.should be the question.

    We need to know it can be fixed. So corrupt.just shut it down and veterans go anywhere.

    They’re has to be a mass firing.not management from Bob McDonald down are not helping veterans one at a time or any other way.

    Millions of dollars spent and veterans claims are being denied one after the other.

  9. There is no statistic or number quoted by any VA official that is in itself statistically likley to be the truth. The statistical likelihood that anything a VA official says is pretty low given historical performance by the rogue agency. The core of VA is deception. That is a core value and frankly the only thing holding the agency together. If the layers of deception could be peeled back the truth would be far more gruesome than most can stomach.

    The VA must lie because “lie” is the glue that holds the agency together.

    1. @Dennis
      I would take that further;

      “Lying to the U.S. Citizenry is the ‘glue’ that holds our current government, and all its entities, together!”

      Think about all the lies coming out from all the Gutless Wonders in Washington over the past few weeks alone!
      This administration is guilty of treason. Why no one has been arrested is beyond comprehension!
      On “military dot com” today, the “commander in charge of the swift boats” over in the Middle East was fired, or was relieved of duty. His career is over! (concerning the sailors who were captured by those Iranian sailors?)
      This week, the Obama administration is admitting the information given out, over the Iranian Deal, was a lie! Just so Kerry could get it passed through the House and Senate! How’s that for “accountability and transparency!”
      There’s more. Lots more!

  10. I love how the media thinks publicizing suicides may increase the risk. Yet they have no problem publicizing nut who shoot and kill a three or four people for days after the incident. Do they not think that causes copy cats?

    The problem is that there is not the national outcry there should be. If 22 is the correct number, multiply that by 7 days in just one week and that is a 154. If 154 people were dying in a plane crash every week, or if 154 politicians died within a week, would there not be national attention from every corner?

    1. Look at mass shootings, counted as 3 or more of I recall, and how the media goes nuts reporting on them for days without regard for whether it encourages copy cats.

      They also report ad naseum on whether Muslims are being attacked or somehow profiled or hate crimes against them , yet reports of actual substantiated attacks are almost non existent.

      1. And amidst all that nuisance static most Americans happily are contently sedate feeding on reality TV and non-stop news coverage of all our local shootings alone, the national crap…amidst all that crappy static, a Veteran could set himself on fire in front of a VA and mainstream media rather report on some sports star beating-up its spouse.
        **crickets** on Veteran and VA issues…and soon we will be dusted-off for Memorial Day and July 4th, paraded around, meanwhile the VA Meatgrinder is still churning away, producing chaos, and never even remind the Public we are actually now in 16+ straight year of WAR…I just do not get it how so many people can have a blind eye today.
        Nazi Germany would have totally succeeded in this time and era…scary.

        Maybe the VA and all Psych Dr.’s need to cease repeatedly asking “Do you have any guns and if you do, where do you keep them”? Because, just maybe, reminding people of that makes them pissed??? 🙂

        Lunatics are running the asylum. Time for some Pink Floyd.

  11. @namnibor and Robin Mitchell.

    Let’s not forget how the Obama administration is setting its sights on controlling ALL of the different Social Medias.
    Facebook, and now Twitter, was the first to capitulate to him. Yet, Utube is still a FREE AGENT, so far.

    namnibor, you beat me to what I was going to say, lol.
    I was wondering when Ben was going to get around to using the term;
    “Political Correctness!”
    It fits perfectly into today’s blog!

    I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next six to eight months. But I will bet it’s going to be against ALL taxpayers and veterans. This hypocrisy, criminal activities and corruption can’t last much longer before something gives way!

    1. I got one better. Put in wants to release the 20,000 emails the Kremlin got out of Hillary Clintons private server. Before JSOC kill teams Reagan ordered some behind the iron curtain kills. Ones that if it was made public would take out much more than just Hillary. Robert Tosh Plumely was the CIA pilot helping bring drugs to Mena. My husband helped load them and was a part of the kill team. I was told today that Bob refused to sign the equitable relief and his lawyer wants more information from SOCOM. It is already dictated and backed up by unreached records and he told a full bird at socom today they are going to russia today. Let this birch burn.

      1. I hope Putin does release those emails.
        Because there will be a bunch of political figures, from POTUS on down, either running out of the country or being put in prison!

        I think FBI Director Comey will demand DOJ Lynch indict Hit-LIAR-y when his investigation is completed. I think the larger amount of “We the People” are pissed at what she’s gotten away with for decades. Back in the ’80’s & 90’s we didn’t have all these electronic devices like today. We get info in seconds instead of days or even weeks.
        Comey has already said if Lynch doesn’t indict, he will have the info “leaked”!

        All I can say is;
        TSWHTF soon if our government officials don’t start doing their jobs!

        We are a “Constitutional Republic” not a Democracy! Look up the definitions to see the difference!

  12. One a day is too many! The VA has not seemed willing to correct the process that makes Veterans want to be depressed, Until the lying, and deceptive behavior stops some will feel it is a way out. Out of pain, poverty, torture of watching life slip by you daily. The VA needs to worry about installing integrity and honesty, and sound business practice back into the VA process and stop wasting millions on half jobs, Half job is what they do with everything. If it is a hard task it will be pushed around or shelved by everyone. The doctors will half diagnose, but never give a patient firm diagnoses for financial relief and VBA will deny, deny until the diagnoses comes in clear, which in many cases never will because they would rather save a few hundred dollars on blood testing and spend thousands in a legal arena. that have worked to fail so long it will be hard to work any other way for them.

  13. “[…Reporting in the manner suggested by DART would dramatically change the story narrative of the veteran who recently lit himself on fire outside a VA facility…]”

    While doing absolutely *NOTHING* about the lack of easy access and timely appointments and *NOTHING* about VETERAN SUICIDE PREVENTION!!!!!!!

    This is *ONLY* the VA playing “Cover Your A$$”, and implementing *new metrics* that ensure Veteran Suicides STAY OUT OF NEWS…period, nothing less.

    So, the VA think they are “removing the cause but are totally missing the mark on the collective SYMPTOM” when it comes to suicides? The VA does not even have a grasp on PTDS so how can it claim this is not anything but “Kneejerk Science Damage Control”??!!????

    This is NOT the VA trying to play “Political Correctness”, this is no less than the VA ensuring it can CONTROL the media and shoot-down any Veteran Suicide news with the VA’s newly invented and redefinition of SUICIDE. Damage Control by VA Spin Dr.

    The VA must have already “redefined Veteran Suicide” and way it’s reported to media by that very Veteran that set himself on fire outside a N.J. VA Clinic, where it took almost a week for -1- small news source locally to report it…the VA remained and still remains mute on the subject matter. CYA VA….screwing the Veterans the best they can each and every day.

  14. How about we add men like my husband that is not suicidal but will probably be dead shortly. Thanks to Bob Mcdonald directly. PERSONALLY. He was briefed on the abortion called his claim and refused to use the power congress gave him to fix a CUE going back decades.

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