Florida Appears to see Drop in Veteran Suicides, But Number is Still Tragically High

Florida Appears to see Drop in Veteran Suicides, But Number is Still Tragically High

493 veteran suicides is still 493 too many

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
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September 20, 2022

As difficult as training for the military is, getting out of the U.S. Armed Forces is the true challenge. Veterans are tragically a demographic at high risk of suicide. Thankfully, recent data conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showed that, in 2020, the number of veteran suicides decreased in Florida to 493.

This is sixty less than the numbers of 2019 at 553. Florida is still nonetheless a leader in veteran suicides, with only Texas leading in recent data. Veteran and blogger Frank Torres tweeted about this Monday evening.

"Happy to see the number of #Florida #Veterans that committed suicide drop in the annual report (done on a three year delay). Sad to see us still among the leaders in tragic cases. Only Texas had more former service members take their own life," Torres says.

Analysis of the data shows that the suicide rate among Florida veterans across all age groups is 32.4 per 100,00, while the state average altogether is just 17.4 per 100,000. The highest age demographic of veterans taking their own lives is between the ages of 18 and 34, at a horrific 40.9 per 100,000 compared to 16.1 in the same age range, about two-and-a-half times larger. The second-highest age demographic was veterans age 75 and older, at 36.8 per 100,000, compared to the Florida average of 22 per 100,000.

A vast majority of veteran suicides make use of firearms, at 74%, while other methods, such as suffocation or poisoning, barely break the double digits. This is a 19-point difference from the overall Florida data, wherein 55.4% of 2020 suicides were with firearms, and a 21-point difference from the national suicide rate, which saw 53.2% of suicides through the use of guns.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL-18), a veteran himself, tweeted for Suicide Awareness Month on September 8th:

"Not a day goes by that I don’t talk to a veteran who is struggling with their self-worth since leaving the military. September is #SuicideAwarenessMonth & it's an important reminder for veterans. If you, or a veteran you know, needs help, dial 988 & press 1, or text 838255," he says.

But Republican members of Congress and Veterans groups do not believe the Biden administration's veterans suicide statistics.

America's Warrior Partnership has stated that rate of suicide among veterans is actually 37% higher than what the VA is claiming, adding that the actual number of veteran suicides is 24 and not the VA average of 18.

Florida Rep. Michael Waltz (R), who has championed Veteran's issue and voted in favor of the 2020 Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill, also believes that the suicides numbers are much higher.

Cory Mills, a combat veteran who is a Republican congressional nominee, agrees with Rep. Waltz.

"What is happening in Afghanistan is not our failures. Do not be depressed or allow the failure of politicians to increase our veteran suicide levels. It’s the suits, not the boots! We all served honorably and carried out the mission," stated Mills shortly after the the Biden's botched military withdrawal in Afghanistan.

Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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