Arizona Continues Unacceptable Veteran Suicide Rate
The Veterans Administration (VA) recently released its National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, While the VA’s words strain to cling to philosophical perceptions of the progress, that data speaks much louder and more clearly. Veteran suicide rates continue at unacceptable levels! Sadly, this is especially true for Arizona.
The VA reports Arizona Veterans committed suicide at the rate of 48.2 per 100,000 Veterans. That gives Arizona the unwelcomed distinction of owning the 6th highest Veteran Suicide Rate in the United States. Only Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon have higher rates. In the previous year’s report, Arizona had the 12th highest. Clearly, it is time for Arizona to acknowledge that our state has a problem that is worse than 88% of other states. By any objective measure we must admit two things:
- we are not doing enough to prevent Veteran suicides
- what we are doing is not working
It is important to note that the VA report is not timely data. It is reporting data and progress from 2020 to 2021. Consequently, we do not really know for sure what the numbers are today. The Department of Defense (DOD), however, recently reported its Annual Report on Suicide in the Military. The active duty suicide rate per 100,000 increased from 24.3 to 25.1—a 3.3% increase. Since today’s military are tomorrow’s Veterans, our challenges are certain to continue.
To be sure, Veteran suicide is a national problem and our Federal government and its agencies have an important role to play—especially the VA. Arizona, however, has to embrace the issue as its problem. State and local governments and agencies must accept the challenge to expand current programs and services, and to discover why many states have significantly lower rates. Private and non-profit organizations must join the battle or increase its commitment if they are already engaged. One specific initiative that can help is the VA and state support of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Currently, Veterans do not receive VA or insurance funding for this treatment that continues to demonstrate its effectiveness.
Finally, individuals—Veterans and non-Veterans alike—can join (or continue) to support the fight. You can help by donating to the Southwest Veterans Foundation’s Veterans Suicide Prevention Fund. To date we have raised $55,355 in tax-deductible donations. You can donate at https://swvcc.org/savealife/ , at any SWVCC event, by mailing a check to SWVF 3820 W. Happy Valley Rd., #141-455 Glendale, AZ 85310, or by calling 602.677.2961.