New Data Shows Veteran Suicide Rates Are Especially High in Western US

Suicide rates among military veterans has been shown to be especially high in the western United States, according to new government data.
Julia Laude takes a deeper look.
>>Dr. James Wisland; Director of Research and Education, ARCSP: "20 veterans a day take their lives and when you consider the fact that they serve our country and some of them have served in active duty and they're now veterans and then they take their life after being home, it's quite a tragedy."
The Department of Veterans Affairs, recently released data from 2016 on suicide, on a state-by-state basis.
The resulting report, focused on the most Western Region of the U-S, including Alaska.
Alaska Veteran Suicide totals 38 deaths, between both male and female service members.
But the V-A is rolling out a new service to better help veterans.
>>Donald Trump; President of the United States: "We will do this through telehealth services. That's what it's called, telehealth services. We're expanding the ability of veterans to connect with their V.A. healthcare team from anywhere using mobile application on the veteran's own phone or the veteran's own computer. This will significantly expand access to care for our veterans, especially for those who need help in the area of mental health, which is a bigger and bigger request, and also in suicide prevention."
Doctor Wisland with the Arctic Resource Center for Suicide Prevention in Fairbanks, agrees that access to care plays a big part in prevention.
>>Dr. James Wisland; Director of Research and Education, ARCSP: "I think there's some fairly good help available but if people or willing to go, if they can get over that hurtle of stigma, I think that's a critical thing."
Public Affairs Officer with the Alaska V-A Healthcare System, Samuel Hudson, says connecting with the community is critical.
>>Samuel Hudson; Alaska VA Healthcare System, PAO: "The V-A believes that every veteran suicide is a tragic outcome. Regardless of the numbers, or the rates, one veteran suicide is one too many. We're just going to continue to spread the word to the community and everybody needs to pitch in and help us identify those veterans that are in crisis. 20 veterans a day commit suicide and pout of that 20, only 6 are in the V-A system. So that leaves the other 14 veterans that are in crisis or that need assistance that are not in and so that's one of the things we're advocating is for those veterans, please enroll in the V-A. Let us take care of you."
This is Julia Laude reporting.