Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today on Arizona State University’s recent study that found military veterans in 2016 were four times more likely to commit suicide than non-veterans:
“We should all be deeply disturbed by the new report released by ASU today that found military veterans in Arizona were four times more likely to commit suicide than non-veterans in 2016. These findings add to a growing body of research that underscores the severity of this national scandal and the need for strong action.
“In the Senate, I have made combatting veterans suicide a top priority. In 2015, I was proud to champion passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which has helped to streamline and improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for our service members at the VA. I also reintroduced legislation in the Senate this year that would help to address one of the major contributing factors of veterans suicide – the over-prescribing of drugs such as opioid pain-killers.
“Unfortunately, according to the VA’s own statistics, 14 of the 20 veterans who commit suicide each day have never stepped foot inside a VA facility. To combat this challenge, I worked to launch a pilot program under the Clay Hunt Act called ‘Be Connected,’ which brings together local VA hospitals, state agencies and a variety of organizations across the state of Arizona to identify veterans who are at-risk of suicide and get them the peer-support and care they need.
“Our state and our nation have a long way to go to eliminate the terrible tragedy of veterans suicide, which continues to take too many lives far too soon. With more research, increased access and stronger community support, we can provide our veterans with the help they need to heal from the invisible wounds of war. The brave young men and women who have sacrificed life and limb for our freedom deserve nothing less.”