Three Veterans in Five Days Die by Suicide at VA Facilities – RIP

Three Veterans in Five Days Die by Suicide at VA Facilities

WASHINGTON — Three suicides occurred during a five-day period on Department of Veterans Affairs properties, prompting reaction this week from Capitol Hill.

Two veterans died by suicide in Georgia, one April 5 at a parking garage at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin and the other April 6 outside the main entrance to the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

On Tuesday, a veteran shot himself in the waiting room at a VA clinic in Austin, Texas, according to KWCX-TV.

“Those deaths did not go by me without noticing them, nor has it gone by me that we have a job to do,” Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said Wednesday during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing.

Though it wasn’t the intended subject of the hearing, multiple senators asked VA officials on Wednesday about the recent suicides.

Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said there have been more than 260 suicide attempts on VA property, 240 of which were interrupted and prevented. He didn’t specify a time period for the attempts.

According to a Washington Post report, 19 suicides occurred on VA property between October 2017 and November 2018.

“Every one of these is a gut-wrenching experience for our 24,000 mental health providers and all of us that work for VA,” Stone said.

In response to reports of the three suicides, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said he would schedule a hearing on the issue later this month.

“Every new instance of veteran suicide showcases a barrier to access, but with three incidents on VA property in just five days, and six this year alone, it’s critical we do more to stop this epidemic,” Takano said in a statement. “I have called for a full committee hearing… to hear from VA about the recent tragedies and spark a larger discussion about what actions we can take together as a nation.”

According to the latest VA data, 20 veterans die by suicide every day. Of those deaths, 14 are not receiving VA health care.

Suicide among veterans continues to be higher than the rest of the population, and younger veterans are particularly at risk. VA data released in September showed the rate of suicide among veterans ages 18 to 34 had significantly increased.

The VA hasn’t identified the veterans who died by suicide in Georgia, nor described the circumstances of the deaths. In Austin, a still-unidentified veteran shot himself in front of hundreds of people in the waiting room, KWTX reported. Weapons are prohibited in VA clinics, but the Austin facility didn’t have metal detectors.

Stone told senators Wednesday that veteran suicide was a societal problem that needed a nationwide approach. He noted an executive order that President Donald Trump signed in March creating a Cabinet-level task force that he promised would “mobilize every level of American society” to address veteran suicide. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie was selected to lead it.

“I wish it was as simple as me saying I could do more patrols in a parking lot that would stop this epidemic,” Stone said. “Where we as a community and society have failed that veteran is a very complex answer.”

This article is written by Nikki Wentling from Stars and Stripes and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

3 Responses

  1. STOP denying Veterans the benefits they have earned. STOP taking pain medications away from Veterans that needthem. These are two of the main reasons that are sending Veterans to the place of making that Final Decision of their lives. If you watched the show “SEALS” last night, it showed a Veteran take his life in VA parking lot after being refused care that he knew he needed. We Veterans are not a one size fits all. We are all different, with different illnesses. Treat Veterans as such.

  2. As someone that has gone to the VA for many years, it is un-fixable! There is a malaise there in the way it is structured that cannot be changed because we cannot legislate medical care! That’s always been the problem and always will be the problem! If you are standing in line for your appt. and the clerk checking everybody in shuts the window for their lunch in everybody in the lines face, what do they expect! The healthcare of Veterans or anyone for that matter doesn’t revolve around a clerks lunch break! It’s the things like this that the unionization of Federal workers has created and as long as the VA is unionized without competition, it CANNOT change! Britain doesn’t want the Veterans Administration in the UK, it wants competition!

    • First of all I have never seen a clerk put out to lunch sign when Veterans need to check in or at any other time. However there lack of giving opiate for chronic pain tends to be more of the problem. The fact that all Veterans who serve does not mean they can use the VA for care is another issue. I find the VA care on par with the outside and some VA hospitals work much better then others. How well the place is run is on the admistration of each hospital and if they are willing to fire people who do not do there job. Basically if the leadership does not care neither do most of the employees. Compare to how they were in 1980’s the VA have gotten much better while outside care has gotten worse.

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