New efforts to assist veterans in Oregon who are suffering suicidal issues are now in place, according to the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs.
Starting Jan. 17, veterans in acute suicidal crisis will be able to go to any Veterans Administration (VA) or non-VA health care facility for emergency health care at no cost — including inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days.
Veterans do not need to be enrolled in VA health care to use this benefit. This expansion will increase access to acute suicide care for up to 9 million veterans who are not currently enrolled in the VA system.
The final policy, which takes effect on Jan. 17, will allow the VA to:
- Provide, pay for, or reimburse for treatment of eligible individuals’ emergency suicide care, transportation costs, and follow-up care at a VA or non-VA facility for up to 30 days of inpatient care and 90 days of outpatient care.
- Make appropriate referrals for care following the period of emergency suicide care.
- Determine eligibility for other VA services and benefits.
- Refer eligible individuals for appropriate VA programs and benefits following the period of emergency suicide care.
Eligible individuals, regardless of VA enrollment status, are:
- Veterans who were discharged or released from active duty after more than 24 months of active service under conditions other than dishonorable.
- Former members of the armed forces, including reserve service members, who served more than 100 days under a combat exclusion or in support of a contingency operation either directly or by operating an unmanned aerial vehicle from another location who were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
- Former members of the armed forces who were the victim of a physical assault of a sexual nature, a battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment while serving in the armed forces.
If you or someone you know is struggling: Don’t wait. Reach out. Visit www.va.gov/REACH for resources and information, or call 988 (then press 1) to quickly connect with caring, qualified crisis support 24/7.
The following is from the Oregon Suicide Prevention wensite.
Veterans and military service members are at particularly high risk for suicide. Many services are available to assist veterans to find hope, even though asking for help can be difficult.
Veterans are more likely than the civilian population to develop specific mental health problems, like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury; they are also at higher risk for developing associated substance use disorders. Often these conditions remain untreated and all of these conditions contribute to an increased risk of suicide among US military veterans.
VA data from 2016 indicates that the veteran suicide rate in Oregon was higher than the national rate. In 2016, 70.5 % of Veteran Suicides in Oregon, or 86 Veteran suicide deaths, were by firearms.
Veteran Suicides by Age Group
According to the (2005-2016) VA National Suicide Data Report, the suicide rate among Veterans ages 18–34 increased substantially in recent years, and the rate in 2016 was significantly higher than in 2014. Rates of suicide are highest among younger male Veterans ages 18–34 and lowest among male Veterans ages 55–74. Despite the increased suicide rate among Veterans ages 18–34, Veterans ages 55–74 represented the greatest share of suicide deaths in 2016, with Veterans age 55 and older accounting for 58.1 percent of suicide deaths.
Suicide and Mental Health
Ultimately, mental health is about being cognitively, emotionally and socially healthy – the way we think, feel and develop relationships – and not merely the absence of a mental health condition.
Suicidal behaviour indicates deep unhappiness, not necessarily a mental health issue. Many people living with mental health issues aren’t suicidal, and not all people who take their own lives have a mental health issue.
Factors contributing to suicide risk are extremely complex and can include mental illness as well as a host of other factors including substance misuse or financial instability. New data from the CDC indicates that more than half of people who died by suicide in 2016 had no known mental health disorder at the time of death, however, it also states, “it is possible that mental health conditions or other circumstances could have been present and not diagnosed, known, or reported.”
Of the total suicide deaths in 2016, 10.3% of individuals had a diagnosed serious mental illness, according to a 27-state sample analysis conducted by the CDC. Extrapolated to the entire United States, this indicates that approximately 4,649 individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder died by suicide in 2016.
About the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs
Established in 1945, the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs is dedicated to serving Oregon’s diverse veteran community that spans five eras of service members.
ODVA administers programs and provides special advocacy and assistance in accessing earned veteran benefits across the state.
Learn about veteran benefits and services, or locate a local county or tribal veteran service office online at www.oregon.gov/odva.