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