Veterans Health Adminstration Chief Denies “Shhh” Coverup of Suicide Data


(Dr. Michael Kussman)

The tamping down of data regarding suicide attempts by Iraq war veterans is playing out this week in California Federal court.

According to a new story, Dr. Michael Kussman, the VA’s Under Secretary for Health, said, “I disagree with the premise that there was some effort to cover up something.”

To recap the news cycle, Everett Chasen the chief communications officer for VA’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA) sent an email to top VHA officials including Kussman about the real suicide attempt rate and how to handle it in the midst of pending CBS story.

The VHA’s top mental health official Dr. Ira Katz responded to Chasen’s email with, “Shh! Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilitates. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?”

Look for this to spin out possibly as much the scandal about the poor conditions at Walter Reed. Rightfully so.