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22 U.S. veterans died of suicide each day

22 U.S. veterans died of suicide each day
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki (R) testifies alongside Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during a House Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs Committee joint hearing titled "Back From the Battlefield: DOD and VA Collaboration to Assist Service Members Returning to Civilian Life," July 25, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- An estimated 22 U.S. veterans died of suicide each day -- or about one each hour, in 2010, officials of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said.

The VA released a comprehensive report on veteran suicide. In the past, data on veterans who died by suicide was only available for those who had sought VA healthcare services.

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The report indicated the percentage of veterans who died by suicide decreased slightly since 1999, while the estimated total number of veterans who died by suicide increased.

"The mental health and well-being of our courageous men and women who have served the nation is the highest priority for VA, and even one suicide is one too many," Eric K. Shinseki, veterans affairs secretary, said in a statement. "We have more work to do and we will use this data to continue to strengthen our suicide prevention efforts and ensure all veterans receive the care they have earned and deserve."

The U.S. Census Bureau said 93 percent of all veterans are male and 21 percent of all males age 18 years and older have history of U.S. military service -- with the highest percentage of veterans age 55 and older.

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Between 1999 and 2010, the average age of male veterans who died from suicide was age 59.6 among veterans identified on state death certificates and age 54.5 among those who could be validated using VA administrative records, the report said.

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