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Continued efforts called for to prevent veteran suicides

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the numbers are at their lowest levels since 2006.

WASHINGTON — A total of 6,146 veterans died by suicide in 2020 according to the Veterans Affairs Department's 2022 National Veterans Suicide Prevention Annual Report released earlier this month.

That represents a decrease in self-inflicted veterans' deaths of 9.7% from 2018 to 2020. 

It's the lowest it's been since 2006.

"This year's report shows real progress. But there's still so much work to be done. One veteran's suicide is one too many," said Dr. Tamara Campbell, Acting Executive Director, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Despite the positive news, the rate of veterans suicide remains at 17.7 deaths per day. Veterans are still significantly more likely to die by suicide than their civilian counterparts.

At a hearing Thursday, House Veterans' Affairs Committee members said that in spite of the improvement, now is no time for the country to take its foot off the gas when it comes to confronting the nation's veteran suicide problem.

"It's our responsibility as members of this committee to do everything in our power to support veterans," said Rep. Mike Bost (R-Illinois).

 A different report from the non-profit veterans advocacy group "America's Warrior Partnership" suggests that the VA has undercounted vets' suicides.

That report estimates that the actual suicide rate may be nearly two-and-a-half times higher than the VA's reported rate.

Dr. Campbell said at the hearing: "I do not agree with that report."

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