News Details

Alarming rate of female veteran suicides addressed in Brown bill

Published: Thursday 04 February, 2016

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A bill aimed at stemming a disproportionate rate of suicides among female veterans has been introduced by Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The "Female Veterans Suicide Prevention Act" would expand the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) annual evaluation of mental health and suicide-prevention programs to include data regarding female veterans.

The act also would require the VA to determine which programs are the most effective for female veterans.

The measure was prompted by a VA study from 2000-2010, tracking 174,00 veterans and non-veterans.

The study, published in May 2015, found that female veterans, representing 10 percent of the veteran population, commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of civilian women, and are five times more likely to commit suicide than male veterans.

The study also noted that from 2000-2010, the rate of suicide among female veterans increased 40 percent. A 2014 update to the study found that the suicide rate of female veterans utilizing the VA health care system has also increased.

According to Brown's office, an average of 18 to 22 veterans take their lives each day — a statistic that has largely remained unchanged for more than a decade.

"Improving access to quality mental health care programs and professionals is a critical part of supporting our veterans when they return home," Brown said in a news release. "This bill will ensure that the VA tailors mental health programs to more effectively serve female veterans."

The House companion bill passed out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee last September and has the support of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), National Military Family Association and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PAV).

Veterans and service members, or their families, who are in crisis can seek help and assistance by contacting the VA's Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, and press 1.

Original Article