WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — In an encouraging sign, a new VA report shows that the number of suicides among veterans is falling to the lowest number since 2006.
“It shows that suicide is preventable,” said VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes.
In 2020, Hayes said there were 343 fewer suicides than the previous year.
“We’re working in concert with our local partners to help us solve this problem. Also, veterans are solving it themselves, helping other veterans, doing buddy checks,” Hayes said.
The annual report documents a 10% decline between 2018 and 2020. VA credits have strengthened mental health programs, clinical support and community collaboration as effective methods of intervention.
“They have resources available to them at the VA. The only thing we want you to do is raise your hand,” Hayes said.
The report also recognizes that more needs to be done because even with the reduction, 16 veterans still took their own lives every day in 2020.
“One suicide is one too many. So we continue to work with our partners across the country to address this situation,” Hayes said.
However, some organizations, such as America’s Warrior Partnership, believe that the VA is underestimating suicide deaths, and the actual number may be much higher. But the VA stands by its research.
“We’re doing everything the right way when it comes to collecting this data,” Hayes said.
The VA encourages anyone who is thinking about or worried about suicide or a loved one to call the new 9-8-8 suicide prevention line.