Seminole, FL – Congressman David Jolly (FL-13) has introduced legislation requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct a review of veteran suicide deaths over the past five years. The bipartisan legislation, called the Veteran Suicide Prevention Act (H.R. 4640), would study the medications prescribed to veterans at the time of their death by suicide.
“It is critical that we understand whether there is any impact of certain psychiatric drugs prescribed for issues like P.T.S.D., depression or traumatic brain injuries, on the decision of a veteran to take their own life,” Jolly said. “With veterans dying by suicide at a heartbreaking rate, we need to take a hard look at all possible factors in order to help prevent these tragedies.”
Specifically, the Veteran Suicide Prevention Act would require the VA to record the total number of veterans who have died by suicide during the past five years, compile a comprehensive list of the medications prescribed to and found in the systems of such veterans at the time of their deaths, and report which Veterans Health Administration facilities have disproportionately high rates of psychiatric drug prescription and suicide among veterans treated at those facilities. The VA would then be required to submit to Congress a publicly available report on the results of their review, along with their plan of action for improving the safety and well-being of veterans.
“Data suggests that every 65 minutes a veteran takes his or her own life. This is unacceptable. One way to address the problem is to determine if any associations exist between suicide and medical treatments our veterans may be receiving for service-related conditions. Accordingly, this bill is a prudent first step in ending this crisis and letting our troops know that when they come home they are not alone,” said Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1), who is an original cosponsor of the bill and also a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
The Veterans Service Organization AMVETS has endorsed Jolly’s Veteran Suicide Prevention Act.
“AMVETS believes that it is critically important that we know whether the drugs being prescribed by VA doctors could be a contributing factor in the tragic problem of veteran suicide. America’s veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and we need to ensure that any medical treatments they receive do not further compromise their physical and/or mental health. H.R. 4640, the Veteran Suicide Prevention Act is a step in the right direction in getting to the bottom of veteran suicides and I applaud Congressman Jolly and Congresswoman Titus for their efforts,” said Diane Zumatto, National Legislative Director for AMVETS.
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