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Nevada veteran suicide rate drops, but remains among highest on West Coast

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Efforts to lower the suicide rate among Nevada veterans have made some progress, yet remains well above the national average for all suicides.

The 2015 statistics, the latest available, come from Veterans Affairs suicide data released Monday as a follow-up to its 2015 National Suicide Data Report, released June 18.

Nevada dropped from an estimated 44.6 veteran suicides per 100,000 residents in 2014 to 42.5 in 2015, but the state still ranks higher than the Western region average of 36.4 and national average of 29.7 veterans suicides per 100,000 residents respectively.

According to the VA report, the national suicide rate is 17.3 per 100,000 residents, the Western region rate is 18.8 per 100,000 people and the overall Nevada suicide rate is 24.4 per 100,000 people.

Alongside the state data sheets, the VA also published the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide, a strategic framework for the nation’s collective efforts to prevent veteran suicides over the next decade.

The updated 2015 state data sheets offer an analysis of veteran suicide data by age, gender and suicide method for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

"It’s hard to do a raw state-by-state comparison, " Las Vegas VA Hospital spokesman Charles Ramey told News 3 in an email. "Varying state characteristics (i.e. health care access, unemployment rates, and firearm policy) make it difficult to compare veteran suicide rates between states.

"However, the Western region has the highest rate in the nation at 34.6 percent (The south is 31 percent, northeast is 22.2 percent, and Midwest is at 27.4 percent) Of the Western states, Nevada is in the middle at 42.5 percent."

Here’s the rate for each state per 100,000 residents:

Wyoming, 52.3; Montana, 49.5; Idaho, 46.7; Utah, 44.1; New Mexico, 42.9; Nevada, 42.5; Arizona, 40.4; Alaska, 40.3; Colorado, 38.7; Oregon, 37.2; Washington, 31.1; California, 28.8; and Hawaii, 20.5.

"It is safe to say that after accounting for differences in age, the veteran suicide rate in Nevada and nine other states in the West was significantly higher than the national Veteran suicide rate," Ramey wrote.

Both the individual state data sheets and the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide underscore the fact that suicide remains an important national public health concern affecting both veterans and non-veterans in every state.

The state data sheets serve as a critically important tool that helps VA and its partners at the state and community levels design and execute the most effective suicide prevention strategies.

“(The) VA is working hard to prevent suicide among all veterans, including those who do not, and may not ever, use VA services and benefits,” said Acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke. “Our work is driven by data that inform our efforts and our partners’ efforts to prevent suicide through a national public health approach.”

Suicide is a complex public health issue. While there is no single explanation for disparities in suicide rates between states, differences in population size, health-care access, and firearm policy are relevant considerations. The interaction of these factors further highlights the need for a coordinated approach to suicide prevention that involves the broader community to support veterans before they reach a crisis point.

The National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide reflects VA’s vision for a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention that involves different sectors working together to build effective networks of support, communication and care, reaching veterans where they live and thrive. VA is leading efforts nationwide to understand suicide risk factors, develop evidence-based strategies and identify and care for veterans who may be at risk for suicide.

“The National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide is more than a strategic plan — it’s a call to action,” said Dr. Carolyn Clancy, executive in charge of VA’s Veterans Health Administration. “Only about half of the approximately 20 million veterans in the U.S. receive VA benefits or services. To end veteran suicide, we need organizations across sectors to adopt the strategy’s framework and join us in delivering support to all veterans.”

The updated 2015 state data sheets are available here.

Download the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide.

Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, should call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or send a text message to 838255.


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