VA Releases Results of Largest Analysis of Veteran Suicide Rates

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released sobering new statistics Thursday about veteran suicide rates in the United States.

According to the VA, an average of 20 veterans died from suicide every day in 2014.

The VA examined over 55 million veteran records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation. The last time the VA conducted a study like this was in 2010, but that report only included data from 20 states.

Veterans accounted for 18 percent of all suicides among U.S. adults in 2014, down from 22 percent in 2010. That means of the 41,425 suicides among U.S. adults in 2014, 7,403 of those were veterans.

Thursday’s results also included comparisons between civilians and veterans. Since 2001, the VA found that suicides among U.S. adult civilians increased 23 percent, while veteran suicides increased 32 percent in the same time period -- making the risk of suicide 21 percent greater for veterans than civilians.

Older veterans face a higher risk of suicide, the data showed. In 2014, about 65 percent of veterans who died from suicide were 50 years or older.

The VA said it was “aggressively” undertaking new measures to combat suicide, including same-day access for veterans with urgent mental health needs. According to the VA, techniques like “predictive modeling” can help determine which veterans may be at the highest risk of suicide so that health care providers can get involved earlier.

“Veterans in the top 0.1 percent of risk, who have a 43-fold increased risk of death from suicide within a month, can be identified before clinical signs of suicide are evident in order to save lives before a crisis occurs,” the VA said in a statement.

Data in this analysis supports that those veterans who seeks VA services may be able to decrease their risk of suicide. The report said that since 2001, the rate of suicide among veterans who use VA services increased by 8.8 percent, while the rate of suicide among veterans who did not use VA services increased by 38.6 percent.

The VA treated more than 1.6 million veterans for mental health in 2015.

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Charlottesville mayor to issue statement on Robert E. Lee statue

Charlottesville mayor to issue statement on Robert E. Lee statueMark Wilson/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer will issue a statement Friday afternoon after canceling a news conference at which he was expected to "make a major announcement" regarding the local statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the legacy of the woman killed during a protest sparked by the city's plans to remove the statue.

His news conference had been scheduled for noon on Friday, but the mayor tweeted Friday morning that "we are canceling today’s press conference and instead issuing a statement in the afternoon."

FYI all: we are canceling today’s press conference and instead issuing a statement in the afternoon. Stay tuned.

— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) August 18, 2017

FYI, the reason for the change is we decided a statement rather than a press event was the best medium for the ideas I want to convey today.

— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) August 18, 2017

The statement comes six days after a Unite the Right rally sparked by Charlottesville's plan to remove the Lee statue from a local park turned deadly.

The rally was attended by neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members. They were met with hundreds of counterprotesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes.

A driver plowed into counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring several others. The suspected driver is in custody, facing charges including second-degree murder.

Despite the "painful" event, "we’re not going to let them define us,” Signer told ABC News earlier this week of the agitators.

"They’re not going to tell our story," he said. "We’re going to tell our story. And outsiders -- their time has come and gone. This city is back on their feet, and we’re going to be better than ever despite this."

Signer compared his hopes for Charlottesville's recovery to the aftermath of the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting in June 2015 that killed nine people. The gunman in that attack said he wanted to start a race war, but the tragedy instead united the city.

"There’s a memorial right now in front of Charlottesville City Hall that’s flowers and a heart that talks about the love that we have here. Those are the images that are going to replace these horrific ones from this weekend. That’s the work that we have as a country," Signer said.

"That’s what happened in Charleston. There were those horrible images of those people bloodied and killed and weeping from the church. But they were replaced quickly, steadily, by the work that started to happen. By people who said, 'You’re not going to tell our story for us. We’re going to tell our story.'

"And that’s what’s happening in this community. That’s my work as the mayor here -- is not to allow these hateful people who just don’t get this country to define us," he said. "And they’re not going to define us."

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