WASHINGTON (KNWA) — The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that veterans are committing suicide at a rate that’s almost twice the national average.
The VA and medical mental health professionals said suicide is a public health issue and it’s preventable.
The Trump administration continues efforts to improve the physical and mental health of veterans. The VA said local communities and individuals must step up to play a key role.
Veterans who have survived the battlefield and return home continue to die by suicide at nearly twice the rate of people who have never served.
Statistics show veterans are among the most vulnerable population and officials said ready-access to firearms is part of the problem.
Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Program Acting Director Dr. Matt Miller said, “access to lethal means like guns is a risk factor.”
Miller said the agency is working with state and local communities to expand resources for veterans who are at risk of taking their own lives.
“We are uniquely collaborating with the community to develop local community-based suicide prevention plans.”
Miller also said the VA’s “Be There Campaign” which raises awareness about veteran suicides and encourages everyday people to support veterans. “We are doing a lot with veteran suicide.”
President Trump also directed the VA to buy a newly approved drug to help treat depression and suicidal thoughts. Miller said the agency is still examining the effectiveness of the medication but adds it’s only one solution under consideration.
“Right time, right place, right veteran and making sure those align when finding the right treatment,” said Miller is important.
Federal leaders said preventing veteran suicides is winnable and they’re committed to doing whatever it takes to protect those who served.
Dr. Miller asked and answered his question, “Are we progressing? Yes. Now in context, one veteran suicide is too many so we certainly are not resting.”