WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — In an encouraging sign, a new report from the VA shows veteran suicides are dropping to the lowest since 2006.
“It shows that suicide is preventable,” said Terrence Hayes, VA press secretary.
In 2020, Hayes said there were 343 fewer suicide cases than the previous year.
“We are working together with our local partners to help us solve this problem. Also, vets go after themselves, help other vets, check in with friends,” Hayes said.
The annual report documents a 10% decline between 2018 and 2020. The VA attributes the strengthening of mental health programs, clinical support and community collaboration to effective intervention methods.
“They have resources readily available at VA. The only thing we want you to do is raise your hand,” Hayes said.
The report also acknowledges that there is still work to be done, as even with the decrease, 16 veterans still committed suicide every day in 2020.
“One suicide is one suicide 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 underreports suicide deaths and that the true number could be much higher. But the VA sticks to their research.
“We’re doing everything the right way when it comes to collecting this data,” Hayes said.
The VA encourages anyone with thoughts or concerns about suicide, or a loved one, to call the new 9-8-8 Suicide Prevention Hotline.