Report on Veteran Suicides Echoes Attempt by Manning

     (CN) — Just days after the newly confirmed suicide attempt in military prison by Chelsea Manning, the Department of Veteran Affairs released a report with the stunning statistic that 22 veterans kill themselves every 24 hours.
     Manning is serving a 35-year sentence at Ft. Leavenworth after a military court convicted her of releasing about 750,000 classified or sensitive military and diplomatic documents to the website WikiLeaks.
     Confirming Monday that Manning was hospitalized after trying to kill herself on July 5, lawyers for the former soldier cricitized the government for violating Manning’s right to medical privacy. They did not disclose further details.
     “Though she would prefer to keep her private medical information private, and instead focus on her recovery, the government’s gross breach of confidentiality in disclosing her personal health information to the media has created the very real concern that they may continue their unauthorized release of information about her publicly without warning,” the email said.
     Two days after reports about Manning’s hospitalization, the Department of Veteran Affairs released a study finding that veteran deaths by suicide averaged 22 per day.
     The suicide rate among veterans has surged 35 percent since 2001, while the suicide rate among female veterans increased 85 percent over the last 15 years, according to July 7 report.
     At Manning’s trial, the court heard that the transgender soldier was placed on suicide watch after her arrest.
     Attorneys confirmed that she tried again last week but that her attempt was unsuccessful.
     “For us, hearing Chelsea’s voice after learning that she had attempted to take her life last week was incredibly emotional,” the attorneys said in an email. “She is someone who has fought so hard for so many issues we care about and we are honored to fight for her freedom and medical care.”
     The VA reviewed the death records of more than 55 million veterans from every state from 1979 to 2014. The data released by the department provides a clear picture of a trend that both the Pentagon and the White House consider a top concern.
     Previous estimates were based on 3 million death records from 20 states, excluding the four largest, and relied on self-reporting of veteran status on death certificates — leading to inaccurate data.
     “This isn’t an estimate, this is the answer,” VA undersecretary for health David Shulkin said Thursday.
     The report found that young veterans were the most likely to commit suicide.
     For male veterans aged 18 to 29, the rate was 86 deaths per 100,000, and for female veterans in the same age range the rate was 33 deaths per 100,000. These figures are much higher than previous estimates, and nearly twice as high as all other age groups.
     The civilian suicide rate is about 14 deaths per 100,000.
     However, the rise in suicide rates for veterans coincides with a nationwide increase in suicides among adults, up 23 percent since 2001.

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