On average, 20 veterans complete suicide every day. That is 7,300 Veteran deaths a year due to suicide, which is more than double the nearly 3,000 deaths on September 11, 2001.
A VA spokesperson says suicide prevention among veterans continues to be VA’s top clinical concern.
Public Affairs Officer Brad Nelson of the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain says, 14 of those 20 veterans who complete suicide every day are not seeking care in the VA health care system.
Nelson says these other veterans are a concern...
"..Some of these veterans may not have been eligible for VA care due to their discharge from the military under other than honorable circumstances. Yet it is these very veterans who are at an elevated risk for suicide...."
Former VA Secretary David Shulkin used his authority to provide VA mental health care in emergency circumstances for up to 90 days for the estimated 500,000 veterans with other than honorable discharges.
Nelson says they're looking at new ways..
"We are continually working to expand and enhance other suicide-prevention initiatives as well. The VA is using innovative screening and assessment programs to identify at-risk veterans. We're bolstering mental health services for women veterans and we're expanding tele-mental health services. We're also deploying free mobile apps to help veterans and their families and using telephone coaching to assist families of veterans..."
It has also initiated open access scheduling whereby all general mental health providers have unscheduled clinic times to meet with veterans experiencing an urgent need. For more information, veterans or their families may call the Iron Mountain VA Medical Center’s Enrollment/Eligibility Office
at (906) 774-3300, extension 32810 or visit www.maketheconnection.net/FindResources