About 22 veterans a day take their own life, according to statistics released by the U.S. Veterans Administration.
The rate of suicide among veterans remained fairly constant through 2003, but began to spike following wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of estimated daily suicides was 19 through 2007, but rose to 22 self-inflicted deaths in 2009.
About a year ago – several months after the release of statistics showing the dramatic increase in veteran suicides – veterans began pushing for Congress to act to stem the rising tide of veteran suicides. Their efforts resulted in the House and Senate passing and President Barrack Obama signing the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act. The new law is named for a 28-year-old Marine from Houston, Texas, who committed suicide in 2011. The law is intended to help those veterans like Clay Hunt who returned with deep psychological wounds after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What does the Clay Hunt suicide bill do for veterans?
- Require independent evaluations of VA suicide prevention programs.
- Create a website where veterans can turn for resources on suicide prevention, including a support program for veterans transitioning from active duty to civilian life.
- Require the VA to collaborate with nonprofit behavioral health organizations on suicide prevention.
Those statistics that prompted Congress and the president to act, give more than a glimmer of hope to those who seek help with their behavioral health issues.
Suicides decreased 30 percent among those who were obtaining help through the VA and they increased 60 percent for those who were not seeking any help.
About 53 percent of those who responded to an Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran Association survey reported a mental health injury, but only 73 percent said they were seeking treatment last year. Of those 27 percent who admitted they were not getting help for their problems, nearly half said they didn’t want to be perceived differently by friends and family.
If you’re a veteran looking to transform your life, The Transition House is here to help. We offer programs for homeless veterans and support for families.