WASHINGTON, DC (KERO) — The Department of Veterans Affairs released some encouraging news this week. A new report indicates the number of deaths from suicide among military men and women dropped for the 2nd year in a row.
Despite the positive news, the numbers are still distressing. The 2022 National Veterans Suicide Prevention Report found that 6,146 vets took their lives in 2020, but that number represents a decrease of 343 from the year before. Veteran suicides declined by more than 300 in 2019 also.
Despite the downward trend, officials say even one death is too many.
“It stretches across the entire population,” said Terri Tanielian, Special Assistant to President Biden for Veterans Affairs. “We see more veteran suicide deaths among older veterans, but the population of older veterans is actually bigger than the population of veterans who are younger. The rate of suicide death is actually higher among our youngest veterans, 18-34.”
Tanielian says there have been significant investments in veterans services, including $52 million dollars in funding for 80 community organization nationwide to coordinate suicide prevention services.
In July, the VA also transitioned to a simple three-digit phone number for veterans who need mental health support. Vets can call or text 988 to connect to confidential services if they’re suffering emotional distress or in suicidal crisis.