Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes

VA Hid Suicide Risk, Internal E-Mails Show

In San Francisco federal court Monday, attorneys for veterans' rights groups accused the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs of nothing less than a cover-up - deliberately concealing the real risk of suicide among veterans.
[...]
The charges were backed by internal e-mails written by Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's head of Mental Health.

In the past, Katz has repeatedly insisted while the risk of suicide among veterans is serious, it's not outside the norm.


"There is no epidemic in suicide in VA," Katz told Keteyian in November.

But in this e-mail to his top media adviser, written two months ago, Katz appears to be saying something very different, stating: "Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilities."

Katz's e-mail was written shortly after the VA provided CBS News data showing there were only 790 attempted suicides in all 2007 - a fraction of Katz's estimate.
[...]
And it appears that Katz went out of his way to conceal these numbers.

First, he titled his e-mail: "Not for the CBS News Interview Request."

He opened it with "Shh!" - as in keep it quiet - before ending with
"Is this something we should (carefully) address … before someone stumbles on it?"

[...]
Last November when CBS News exposed an epidemic of more than 6,200 suicides in 2005 among those who had served in the military, Katz attacked our report.

"Their number is not, in fact, an accurate reflection of the rate," he said last November.

But it turns out they were, as Katz admitted in this e-mail, just three days later.

He wrote: there "are about 18 suicides per day among America's 25 million veterans."

That works out to about 6,570 per year, which Katz admits in the same e-mail, "is supported by the CBS numbers."
In related news:
In 2005, for example, in just those 45 states, there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That’s 120 each and every week, in just one year.

Dr. Steve Rathbun is the acting head of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at the University of Georgia. CBS News asked him to run a detailed analysis of the raw numbers that we obtained from state authorities for 2004 and 2005.

It found that veterans were more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 than non-vets. (Veterans committed suicide at the rate of between 18.7 to 20.8 per 100,000, compared to other Americans, who did so at the rate of 8.9 per 100,000.)

One age group stood out. Veterans aged 20 through 24, those who have served during the war on terror. They had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age. (The suicide rate for non-veterans is 8.3 per 100,000, while the rate for veterans was found to be between 22.9 and 31.9 per 100,000.)
Obviously, aside from the song lyric at the top of the post, suicide isn't painless. For an individual to commit, or even attempt, suicide they have to be in overwhelming pain. And the individual doesn't care whether it's physical or mental. And the pain inflicted on their families is probably worse.

Even taking into account the difference between civilian and military, age 20-24, suicide rates are still more than double what the Pentagon currently reports as 'deaths from combat.'

If you kill yourself because of what you've been thru in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, you are, and should be listed as, yet another death in Bush's War on Terrer (© Bush 200X)



Cross posted at VidiotSpeak