WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — More than 17 veterans take their own life each day, according to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.
Warner is concerned for the country’s veterans as a new report from the VA shows the rising rate of veteran suicides.
“Veterans are at an increased level of risk for suicide than the average American,” Retired Col. Michael Hudson said.
Hudson says the veteran suicide rate is almost two times higher than the civilian suicide rate.
“We should be using modern technology and focusing that outreach at veterans as they begin to get into crisis,” Hudson said.
The study also shows an increased risk for those who don’t get help from Veterans Affairs.
“What we found is that two-thirds of these veterans who take their own lives have had no contact with the VA,” Warner said.
Warner’s bipartisan bill expands veterans’ access to mental health services, to reduce the rate and increase outreach from the VA and nonprofits.
“This is just an effort to marry these resources and my hope is that we can bring these numbers down because they are still way, way too high,” Warner said.
This report does not include data from 2020, but Hudson and Warner say they expect the pandemic is making things worse.
“I would be very afraid of seeing what the numbers might be this year,” Warner said.
“In essence, as COVID ticks down, veterans suicide is not going to match directly to it, it’s going to lag behind it,” Hudson said.
Hudson says the numbers could continue to rise as we get closer to the holiday season.