Accuracy of Stats: Our View


Spreading Truth in Our Fight Against Veteran Suicide - The Imperative for Accurate Statistics

Accurate data plays a critical role in understanding and preventing suicide among service members and veterans. This need for precise, up-to-date, accurate, and Arizona-specific suicide statistics for veterans and service members cannot be underscored enough. While national statistics can help provide a big-picture view, they simply cannot be extrapolated to provide an accurate picture of what is happening in each state, including Arizona. Our advocacy for mental health and well-being and our work to prevent suicide hinges on the reliability and applicability of the data we use and share.

The Dangers of Inaccurate and Generic Statistics

Inaccurate or overly generalized suicide statistics pose significant dangers. They can lead to misguided policies, misallocation of resources, and, most tragically, ineffective interventions that fail to address the unique needs of our community. In Arizona, where the veteran population may face distinct challenges compared to other states, relying on national averages or non-vetted data can result in a gross misrepresentation of the reality on the ground.

  • Policy Misdirection: Policymakers rely on statistical data to shape crucial decisions. Inaccurate data can lead to ill-informed policies that do not address the root causes or specific nature of veteran suicide in Arizona.
  • Resource Misallocation: In the battle against service members and veteran suicide, every resource counts. Misleading statistics can cause resources to be channeled ineffectively, overlooking critical areas in need of support.
  • Ineffective Support and Intervention: Generic or outdated statistics can lead to support services that do not resonate with or meet the specific needs of Arizona’s service members, veterans, and their families, potentially exacerbating their struggles.

Arizona’s service member and veteran community has unique sets of circumstances and challenges. Factors such as demographic composition, local culture, access to healthcare, and regional socio-economic conditions play a significant role in mental health outcomes. Generic statistics gloss over these nuances, undermining efforts to develop tailored, impactful suicide prevention strategies.

The Imperative for Accurate, Updated, and Reputable Data

Accurate data enables us to make informed decisions, ensuring that our strategies and interventions are relevant and effective. With precise statistics, we can allocate resources more effectively, focusing on areas and populations with the most critical needs. Reliable data empowers us to advocate more effectively for service members’ and veterans’ needs, raising awareness with factual, compelling narratives.

Not only can inaccurate data cause issues with resource allocation and planning, but it can also erode trust within the service members and veteran community. Accuracy, reliability, and representational data foster trust among veterans, stakeholders, and the broader community, reinforcing the credibility of our mission.

Our commitment to accurate data at the Arizona Coalition for Military Families is shown in our actions. While we have numerous initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to accurate data, these projects are most notable for their nexus to data accuracy and fidelity.

  • Every two years, the Arizona Coalition for Military Families partners with Arizona State University (ASU) to conduct our original research. We survey Arizona service members, veterans, their family members, caretakers, and stakeholders to obtain an understanding of their views and needs. This data is processed by ASU into a comprehensive report we make public through our website to help inform all stakeholders. Reports can be viewed at


  • Arizona Coalition for Military Families Project Director Nicola Winkel, MPA, serves on the Maricopa County Suicide Mortality Review Team (MRT). This multi-disciplinary team is charged with reviewing deaths by suicide in Arizona and generating prevention recommendations. The MRT offers valuable insights and recommendations that will be incorporated into the Suicide Action Prevention Plan to inform efforts to provide the right support to Arizona service members and veterans at the right time to prevent suicide.

The stakes could not be higher. The battle against veteran suicide is a fight for lives, and it is a fight we must approach with the utmost dedication to truth and accuracy. I urge all stakeholders, policymakers, researchers, and community leaders to prioritize the use of current, accurate, and Arizona-specific suicide statistics. When discussing the tragic reality of service members and veteran suicide, let us ensure that our facts are beyond reproach. This is not just a matter of professional integrity; it is a moral imperative in our mission to save lives and honor the sacrifices of our service members and veterans. Accurate data is not just a tool in this fight; it is the very foundation upon which our efforts must be built.

Warm regards,
Thomas Winkel
Director, Arizona Coalition for Military Families

Stay Informed

Sign up for Email updates
Be Connected and are provided in partnership by:

Special thanks to the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family for their partnership and support.

Scroll to Top