Submitted by: Dr. Gary Kohls, MD


The VA (not to mention virtually every other psychiatric clinic in America) ignores the fact that American military veterans (just like most of America’s chronically-ill infants and children) are 1) seriously over-vaccinated with a multitude of neurotoxic vaccines that contain, among many other toxic substances, mercury, aluminum and live viruses.

Because any neurotoxic drug or neurotoxic vaccine ingredient WILL INVARIABLY cause neuropathological disorders which commonly manifest as mental health issues, most psychiatric clinics will mis-treat the brain-injured or brain-toxic patient with cocktails of seriously neurotoxic, addictive and/or dependency-inducing psych drugs that can cause both serious withdrawal symptoms as well as toxic effects). None of those psych drug (or vaccine) cocktails have been proven to be either safe long-term or even effective.

Treating a sickness (that has been totally mis-diagnosed) with an erroneous treatment regimen (that is highly likely to be toxic) is a recipe for disaster. The is likely to be worse than the original disease.

And, because those treatment toxicities are iatrogenic (doctor-, drug- or vaccine-caused) the VA (and virtually every psychiatric or medical clinic in America) prefers to blindly continue to rely on neurotoxic psychiatric drugs that are known to actually increase suicidality and depression rather than relieve those realities.

V.A. Officials, and the Nation, Battle an Unrelenting Tide of Veteran Suicides

By Jennifer SteinhauerApril 14, 2019

WASHINGTON — Three veterans killed themselves last week on Department of Veterans Affairs health care properties, barely a month after President Trump announced an aggressive task force to address the unremitting problem of veteran suicide.

Mr. Trump’s executive order was a tacit acknowledgment of what the deaths rendered obvious: The department has not made a dent in stemming the approximately 20 suicide deaths every day among veterans, about one and a half times more often than those who have not served in the military, according to the most recent statistics available from the department.

A 2015 measure that required officials to provide annual reviews of mental health care and suicide prevention programs has found that veterans often receive good mental health care at many Department of Veterans Affairs centers — but that has not decreased suicide rates. A relatively new program, known as the Mayor’s Challenge, that helps city and state governments reach more veterans through more public health programs via Veterans Affairs partnerships has shown some promise, but no data exists yet demonstrating suicide reductions.

While the V.A. has been the public face of the issue, veterans are in many ways an amplification of the same factors that drive suicide in the broader American population: a fragmented health care system, a shortage of mental health resources, especially in rural areas, a lack of funding for suicide research and easy access to guns. All of these contribute to the drastically increased suicide rate among all Americans, which rose 33 percent from 1999 to 2017.

High rates of homelessness, traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress and a military culture that can be resistant to seeking help are all aggravating factors for veterans, whose rates of suicide have been the subject of numerous hearings on Capitol Hill.

“We are not even at the Sputnik stage of understanding problems with mental health,” said Robert Wilkie, the secretary of veterans affairs. “I have said this is the No. 1 clinical priority that is made manifest by the president putting V.A. as the lead for this national task force.”

Some programs to address veteran suicide are showing promise.

A study of nine V.A. emergency rooms found 45 percent fewer suicidal behaviors among patients who received follow-up outreach after suicide attempts; as a result of this study, all V.A. medical centers have put into place the Safety Planning Intervention program.

Since the department in 2017 began tracking suicides at Veterans Affairs facilities — among the most high-profile of veteran suicides — there have been more than 260 suicide attempts, 240 of which have been interrupted, department officials say.

Yet about 70 percent of veterans do not regularly use the V.A., access to a federal department that may be viewed as central to suicide prevention.

“The vast majority of veterans that die by suicide are not seeking services,” said Julie Cerel, a professor at the University of Kentucky and president of the American Association of Suicidology. “So the V.A.s are kind of at a loss of how to serve this group of people. Yet when they do end their lives, it becomes the responsibility of the V.A.,” in the viewpoint of critics, she said.

Leadership turmoil — a consistent trait of the Trump administration — has complicated the V.A.’s attempt to address suicide. The agency’s director of its prevention office, Caitlin Thompson, resigned in 2017 after tangling with political appointees. According to a Government Accountability Office report last year, the office has essentially languished. Most notably, the office spent $57,000 of its $6.2 million media budget, and its presence on social media declined 77 percent from the levels of 2015, the report found. Lawmakers expressed outrage.

Although Veterans Affairs officials blamed miscommunication at the time, Keita Franklin, the department’s new executive director of suicide prevention, said that the program had been delayed to come up with a more targeted marketing campaign, called #BeThere. It will try to “talk more specifically with targeted audiences,” she said, noting campaigns focused on 18- to 24-year-olds might focus on texting a friend in trouble while the over-60 crowd would be encouraged to have coffee. Some advertisements would be honed for women, for example, or for veterans in rural communities.

Yet myriad political, structural and cultural impediments exist far beyond the administration’s walls.

Many suicide experts believe that a lack of proper training in suicide prevention in the broader mental health field, hobbled by a lack of research into a matter that has stymied so many public health officials, is central to the issue.

In 2017, the suicide rate in the United States reached 14 per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; it is the nation’s 10th leading cause of death. Yet only $68 million is expected to be spent on suicide research this year, according to the National Institutes of Health. In comparison, breast cancer will receive about $709 million in research funding and $243 million is expected to be spent this year researching prostate cancer.


President Trump last month signing an executive order to “empower veterans and end veteran suicide.”CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times


“There has been tremendous research on breast cancer and AIDS, which lowered mortality rates on diseases we once thought once insurmountable,” Dr. Cerel said. “However, we have not had comparable research into suicide.”

Guns are used in the majority of veteran suicides, in large part because gun ownership is high for that group. Last year, about 80 percent of suicides among veterans in Montana were by firearms, said Claire R. Oakley, the director of health promotion at RiverStone Health, a community provider attached to the Mayor’s Challenge in Billings, Mont., which has had among the highest rates of suicide in the nation.

“Awareness is important but it does take funding and there is no capacity funding to do this work,” she said, noting that volunteers had filled many of the gaps.

Proper storage techniques and training friends and family to know when to try to remove guns from vulnerable veterans are still lacking. Lawmakers who move to reduce gun access to suicidal veterans often face resistance.

“By reducing access to firearms you see a drop right away,” said Jane Pearson, chairwoman of the Suicide Research Consortium at the National Institute of Mental Health. “We have to think of a way forward that is fair, that does not take away weapons unfairly.”

Several states have enacted “extreme risk protection order” laws, which help law enforcement and family members temporarily remove guns from, or prohibit their purchases by, people who may be a threat to themselves.

Perhaps most vexing is a military culture that emphasizes discipline and perseverance, which can backfire when a veteran is suicidal.

“People who join the military have this sense of boot straps, ‘I can do it,’” Dr. Franklin said. “Then you become a vet and they say come in and get mental health care, and inwardly they don’t feel good doing it.”

Mr. Trump’s executive order would also task multiple federal agencies — like the Agriculture Department in rural areas — to pitch in on veteran suicide prevention and to give grants to local governments to work with health care partners to better reach veterans.

“There is no single cause of suicide,” Dr. Franklin said. “When we pull a thread, we see a complex situation with 25 factors playing. We can’t prevent suicide from where we sit in the V.A. by ourselves.”

Allowing local governments to join with health care providers has also shown promise. The Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, for instance, works through 10 regional coalitions to provide veterans with mental health services as well as things like entrepreneurship training.

A major complication is reaching the veterans to start. Many use both V.A. and community providers; providers outside the system have varied forms of insurance coverage.

“There are a lot of things the V.A. have done right,” Dr. Pearson said. “The issue is the challenge in our health care system with people jumping from one system to another.”

The Mayor’s and Governor’s Challenges — which team governments with community health care providers to better reach and service veterans — show promise in connecting veterans to needed services inside and outside the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Brent Arnspiger, the suicide prevention coordinator for the Michael E. DeBakey V.A. Medical Center in Houston, works with a local provider to send veterans who are not eligible for V.A. services to that provider’s facilities, and vice versa. “We have a warm handoff instead of just giving someone a phone number,” he said. “In the last three months, we have given 30 consults there,” he said of the health centers, “and they brought five to us.”

Other states are eagerly embracing the same challenge. “The Commonwealth of Virginia has one of the largest populations of veterans, service members and their families in the nation,” said Carlos Hopkins, the Virginia secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, “which gives us a particularly keen awareness of the importance of tackling this national epidemic head on.”

A version of this article appears in print on April 14, 2019, on Page A16 of the New York edition with the headline:Suicides Among Veterans Show No Sign of Slowing, Confounding V.A. Efforts.