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Jill Stein's claim

Is this claim by Jill Stein accurate?

I'm assuming that she's referring to US veterans, both for the suicide rate and the combined death rate in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • 2
    Obviously she wants to indicate how bad serving in I/A was, or how bad follow-up care is, so what should be subtracted from the number of veteran that committed suicide is the number who would've committed suicide anyway, i.e. the baseline. And that raises the question what your 'control group' is: the military, or the general population? – Jan Doggen Sep 4 '16 at 17:18
  • @JanDoggen I think perhaps that's overthinking it. I read this as simply a statement that it can be hard for veterans to return to civilian society, and that the services our country offers them could be significantly improved. – Beofett Sep 5 '16 at 12:13
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Although exact numbers are hard to come by, there is clearly a higher rate of suicides among veterans than the general population and that number exceeds the number of combat deaths in Iraq missions until 2011 and Afghanistan missions from 2001 to the present.

This article from the Military Times notes that:

in 2014, the latest year available, more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives, accounting for 18 percent of all suicides in America. Veterans make up less than 9 percent of the U.S. population. (emphasis mine)

According to wikipedia, total military deaths for Afghanistan is 2,384 and for Iraq is 4,504, which would indicate that the number of suicides in that year alone exceed deaths.

It is worth noting that the studies of military suicide rates is complicated.

This recent New York Times piece goes more into depth with the findings and this Washington Post fact check piece has an in-depth look at the report's methodology and how counting veteran suicides is unclear.

For instance:

However, they [the authors of the study] acknowledged “significant limitations” in their available data, including people incorrectly identified > veterans in death certificates.

and

The report does not include some states with the largest veteran population (including California, Texas, Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina), so it is unclear how this would affect the rate.

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    It looks like you're saying more veterans commited suicide in 2014 alone (ignoring possible errors with that data) than soldiers killed in both wars combined. I'm not sure i understand how that means her claim is inaccurate. Am i misunderstanding? – Beofett Sep 3 '16 at 15:10
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    I'll give you a +1 for the research, but I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion. – Beofett Sep 3 '16 at 15:52
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    If the claim is that more veterans took their own life in the past 6 years than died in Iraq or Afghanistan, and an estimated 7400+ took their own lives in just one of the past six years, yet a combined total for casualties for Iraq + Afghanistan equals less than 7,000, then it seems pretty clear her claim is basically accurate. Despite the fact that data for 2015 or 2016 is not available, her claim is based on the combined total of the past 6 years. Even if 2015 and 2016 saw zero incidents, her claim is already accurate. – Beofett Sep 3 '16 at 18:38
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    I agree with Beofett, it is quite unclear how you arrive at the conclusion that the claim is false. The casualties of OIF, OND, OEF, OIR, and OFS combined are 6895. According to your sources, 7400 veterans committed suicide in 2014 alone (the Washington Post criticizes the 22 per day stat, not this one), making the claim true. I agree that Steins message is a bit open to interpretation, eg: do the 6 years refer to only suicides, or also to the war casualties (I would think the first), what does "or" mean, and so on. But however you read it, it's true. – tim Sep 3 '16 at 21:41
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    @rougon I would edit it, yes. Because however you look at the statement or the facts, the more statement is simply always true. Even if you take the lowest estimate of 18 suicides per day, there were still more suicides in 2013 + 2014 alone than there were casualties in all of the Iraq and Afghanistan related operations put together. You could add that it is very likely giving the missing data that the statement is hugely understating the rate of suicides as compared to casualties, but there is just no way to arrive at the conclusion that the statement is false based on the given facts. – tim Sep 4 '16 at 7:07

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