This is an article from our Sunday paper…
At least 27 veterans under age 45 died by suicide in San Diego County between 2014 and the first half of 2015.
For them, there was no retirement, no second career, no time spent watching their children grow.
The majority suffered from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in a combat zone since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Their experience defies academic research, which says troops who deploy are not more likely to die by suicide.
San Diego provides a rare window on post-9/11 veterans and the issue of suicide, perhaps one not available anywhere else in the nation., With nearly 28,000 post-9/11 veterans, the county is the nation’s largest hub of Iraq and Afghanistan war-era veterans.
This special project relies on death information from the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, one of the few — if not the only one in the United States — to regularly track veteran and military status in its data. Having the names of these men and women led to family members and friends who shared gripping, tragic and complex stories of the veterans’ lives.
The interviews revealed dissatisfaction with care provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, both in San Diego and other regions.
These loved ones said the VA, and other health institutions, don’t do enough to include spouses and parents when there are signs a troubled veteran is giving up on treatment or is in despair., In the case of people at risk for suicide, they say federal privacy laws may do more damage than good. And the former director of the VA San Diego medical system agrees the issue should be examined.
Also, families of some of these veterans witnessed a revolving door of health care providers, in part because VA medical centers are teaching hospitals.
Some question the amount of medication prescribed in these cases. Nearly all commonly used antidepressants list suicidal thoughts as a possible — though rare — side effect, particularly for people under 25.
Additionally, there’s a lethal combination of excessive drinking and easy access to guns.
Fourteen of these veterans shot themselves and eight of those were drinking at the time of their death — some quite heavily drunk, such as more than three times the legal limit for driving.