Suicide Rate Among Discharged Iraq/Afghanistan Vets in San Diego Could be Above 73/100,000; VA Won’t Talk Specifics on 22 Patient Suicides so far in 2012

More Than 20 SD Vets Committed Suicide This Year

VA says young veterans account for nearly half of crisis calls; San Diego area is home to about 30,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the most in the nation

by Jeanette Steele
UT San Diego, Aug. 30, 2012

More than 20 San Diego-area veterans have committed suicide this fiscal year, according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical system in San Diego.

A total 126 local veterans attempted to take their own lives, and 22 succeeded, the VA said.

At least 22 San Diego area veterans (enrolled at VA) have taken their own lives so far in 2012. VA won’t say how many of those suicides were among veterans who served during the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. Shown in a photo from 2009, Johnathan Pebley, 24, and Brandon Wingle, 22, had both enrolled in Veterans Village of San Diego homeless veteran programs after being discharged from the Marine Corps. Homelessness is a significant risk factor for suicide among veterans. San Diego area is home to 222,000 veterans from all wars; about 30,000 of them have served during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. (Sam Hodgson)

The facility released the data for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30 as part of an effort to highlight its suicide prevention program during National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 9 to 15.

The San Diego region is home to the largest concentration of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the nation, roughly 30,000, and those former troops are showing up in the suicide statistics to a greater degree.

Almost half of crisis calls received by the VA’s suicide prevention program are people who have served since Sept. 11, 2001, officials said.

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