Updated Military Suicide Rate From VA Shows Treatment Works
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WASHINGTON - In its most comprehensive study of veteran suicide rates to date, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today the number of veterans who die by suicide is 20 per day. Preliminary data indicate that suicides among veterans utilizing VA care increased by 8.8 percent between 2001 and 2014 while the rate of suicide among those veterans who didn’t access care during the same time jumped 38.6 percent.
The VA will release its final report later this month.
“The VA’s findings confirm that for those receiving it, treatment works,” said Kim Ruocco, TAPS Chief External Relations Officer for Suicide Prevention and Postvention. “However, we want to make sure the successes of treatment are highlighted rather than the number of deaths. When the number of deaths is used constantly, it creates a sense of hoplessness and helplessness about the ability to get care that works. The information released today indicates those in VA care are much less likely to die by suicide.”
Ruocco contributes to suicide prevention efforts in civilian as well as military organizations. She serves as the co-lead on the National Action Alliance Task force for Military and Veterans, is a member of the SPRC steering committee and has testified before the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs. Ruocco is an International speaker who uses her education, personal experience and information gathered from thousands of service members and bereaved military families to help others more fully understand suicide.
Through her work with TAPS, Ruocco has developed comprehensive, peer-based programs that offer comfort and care to all those grieving the loss of a service member to suicide. She holds a BA in Human Services and Psychology from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work from Boston University. She is the surviving widow of Marine Corp Maj. John Ruocco, who died by suicide in 2005.