Sept. 20 (UPI) — The Department of Veteran Affairs said on Monday that veteran suicide deaths in 2020 fell at the fastest rate in the past 14 years, showing the success of the VA’s efforts to reduce troubled service members.
The 2022 National Veterans Suicide Prevention Annual report said suicides decreased for the second year in a row, and reached their lowest numbers since 2016. The VA has been addressing the issue through its National Strategy for Prevention of Veteran Suicide.
The Biden administration increased its effort to provide resources for veteran suicide prevention through its Reducing Military and Veteran Suicide strategy announced earlier.
“There is nothing more important to VA than preventing Veteran suicide — it’s our top clinical priority,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough in a statement. “This year’s report shows real progress, but there is still so much work to be done.
“One veteran suicide is one too many, and VA will continue to work with our federal, state, local and private partners to tackle this problem and save veterans’ lives.”
The report said there were 6,146 veteran suicide deaths in 2020, 343 fewer than in 2019. The unadjusted rate of suicide in 2020 among U.S. military veterans was 31.7 per 100,000.
From 2001 to 2020, age- and sex-adjusted suicide rates for veterans peaked in 2018 and then fell in 2019 and 2020 by 9.7%.
“The report contains information about positive progress, yet it also documents that more work is needed to further reduce veteran suicide,” the report said. “That’s why VA is taking a department-wide approach to veteran suicide prevention that integrates strategic planning, program operations and program evaluation across VA.”