What 22 a day means.
In 2012 alone, an estimated 7,500 former military personnel died by suicide. More active duty service members, 177, succumbed to suicide that year than were killed in combat, 176. The Army suffered 52% of the suicides from all branches.
In 2013, the United States Department of Veteran Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes. Some sources suggest that this rate may be undercounting suicides. An analysis done in 2013 found a suicide rate among veterans of about 30 per 100,000 population per year, compared with the civilian rate of 14 per 100,000. However, the comparison was not adjusted for age and sex.
According to a report published by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2016, which analyzed 55 million veterans' records from 1979 to 2014, the current analysis indicates that an average of 20 veterans die from suicide per day.
The total number of suicides differs by age group; 31% of these suicides were by veterans 49 and younger while 69% were by veterans aged 50 and older. As with suicides in general, suicide of veterans is primarily male, with about 97 percent of the suicides being male in the states that reported gender.
In 2015, the Clay Hunt Veterans Suicide Prevention Act passed in the Senate and was then enacted as Pub.L. 114–2 on February 12, 2015. It requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to organize an annual third-party evaluation of the VA's mental health care and suicide prevention programs, to mandate website updates at least once every 90 days about the VA's mental health care services, to offer educational incentives for psychiatrists who commit to serving in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), to collaborate with nonprofit mental health organizations with the goal of preventing veteran suicide, and to extend veterans' eligibility for VA hospital care, medical service care, and nursing home care. However, the limitations of this act are very restricting. Veterans can only access extended eligibility if they have been discharged or released from active duty between the years of 2009 and 2011 and if they have not enrolled in care during the five years following their discharge.