A group of veterans recently marched on the Senate office buildings in support of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, named for an Iraq/Afghanistan war veteran who committed suicide in 2011. The veterans’ goal is to get the bill passed before a new session commences in January.
It makes sense, because suicide among veterans has only risen as an issue in recent years: the number of patients seeking mental health treatment with the Veterans Affairs department rose by half a million between 2006 and 2013.
At the same time, the rate of suicide among veterans 18 to 27 receiving care at VA facilities is 79 per 100,000 person-years. For active-duty military, that number is far lower: 18.7 per 100,000 person-years.
Dr. Harold Kudler is the chief mental health consultant for the VA. He noted:
“VA recognizes that even one veteran suicide is too many. We are committed to ensuring the safety of our veterans, especially when they are in crisis. VA is committed to providing timely, high-quality care that our veterans earned and deserve and we continue to take every available action and create new opportunities to improve suicide prevention services.”
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