West­ern, ru­ral vet­er­ans have higher sui­cide rates

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - NATION -

Sui­cide among mil­i­tary vet­er­ans is es­pe­cially high in the west­ern U.S. and ru­ral ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to new gov­ern­ment data that show wide stateby-state dis­par­i­ties and sug­gest so­cial iso­la­tion, gun own­er­ship and ac­cess to health care might be fac­tors.

The fig­ures re­leased Fri­day are the first Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs data on sui­cide by state. It shows Mon­tana, Utah, Ne­vada and New Mex­ico had the high­est rates of vet­eran sui­cide as of 2014, the most cur­rent VA data avail­able. Vet­er­ans in big chunks of those states must drive 70 miles or more to reach the near­est VA med­i­cal cen­ter.

The sui­cide rates in those four states stood at 60 per 100,000 in­di­vid­u­als or higher, far above the na­tional vet­eran sui­cide rate of 38.4.

The over­all rate in the West was 45.5. All other re­gions of the coun­try had rates be­low the na­tional rate.

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