Veterans suicide is still a terrible problem here in Florida, as illustrated by the 2021 veterans suicide report published by the Department of Veterans Affairs this week. In the write-up that is staggered two years in reporting, 533 veterans took their own life. A number that is far too high.
Here are five points to remember.
Florida is among the worst states in the nation in veterans suicides: More deaths that Texas, California, and any other similar sized state. In our 17 state southern district, we accounted for over 35% of deaths.
Anyone who says Florida is the best state for veterans is not telling the truth and is doing a terrible disservice to suicide prevention.
Older veterans are hurting: 396 of the deaths were from vets that were older than age 55. This must serve as a reminder that support after separation must always be available and a rejection of help from a VA provider can be devastating.
Death by firearms is by far the most used method: Almost 3 out of 4 veterans suicides were carried out by a firearm. Second was suffocation which accounted for 15% of deaths.
Post pandemic and Afghan withdraw reporting brings uncertainty: Because reporting is staggered two years, we still don’t know what changes we’ll see that may have been caused by the COVID 19 pandemic. Or any effects on mental health seen by the withdraw from Afghanistan.
We need a better “total care” approach to prevent suicides: Taking one’s own life is the last step in a painful process involving feelings of abandonment and depression for veterans. We must work on improving access to health care, preventing homelessness, and overhauling military to civilian transition services to do better.
You can view the report HERE