According to a study by the New York State Health Foundation, the suicide rate for New York veterans aged 18 to 34 has “more than doubled.”
The New York State Health Foundation is a private organization that seeks to improve the health of New Yorkers by providing grants, informing health care policy and providing technical assistance to their grantees and partners.
The January study states that although veterans make up only 8% of the U.S. population, in 2017, veterans accounted for 14% of the suicide rate. In addition, the New York veteran suicide rate is consistently lower than the national suicide rate. However, between 2005 and 2011 the New York suicide rate for veterans aged 18 to 34 increased by 67.2%, while the suicide rate among older New York veterans has decreased.
“Veteran suicide continues to take 20 [plus] lives per day across the U.S., and is worsening among younger, post-9/11 vets especially,” said Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said in a Facebook post on Feb. 24. Ryan is also U.S. Army veteran and West Point Graduate.
In 2017, New York State accounted for 700,000 veterans, the sixth largest veteran population in the U.S.
The study states that veteran suicide rates are influenced by many factors.
“Research demonstrates that a complex mix of individual and environmental risk factors contribute to suicide rates. These include, but are not limited to, demographics, economic stability, mental health, substance use and firearm access,” according to the report.
The New York State Health Foundation concluded in their study that New York has consistently low veteran suicide rates compared to the national average because of gun control laws.
According to the study, New York has currently banned bump stocks and extended waiting periods for certain gun buyers. Also, the recent Red Flag law allows courts to confiscate guns from those deemed by family members and professionals to be at risk.
However, the Health Foundation believes that New York should develop “veteran-specific” policies to combat this issue.
The Veterans Crisis Line, a free confidential resource trained to help veterans of all ages and circumstances, has taken 4.4 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in crisis more than 138,000 times since its launch in 2007.
In February, SUNY New Paltz was named a Top 10 Military Friendly School out of 8,800 schools nationwide.
“Military Friendly” is qualified by the “measures an organization’s commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful benefits for the military community,” according to the Military Friendly website.
Mental health resources provided to veterans on campus include the Psychological Counseling Center in addition to OASIS and HAVEN, the student-staffed, crisis intervention centers and telephone hot-line.