The Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act has been signed into law by President Donald Trump in an effort to reduce suicide rates among U.S. veterans.
The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Congressman Anthony Brindisi, would require the U.S. comptroller general to assess the responsibilities, workload and vacancy rates of Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ suicide prevention coordinators.
“One Veteran life lost to suicide is too many,” Brindisi said. “I hear from veterans across New York who are struggling and as a nation we need to do right by our veterans. This bill will help bring down the suicide rate and give the VA the tools they need to succeed. I am honored the president signed my bill to help our veterans.”
Suicide prevention coordinators ensure at-risk veterans receive appropriate care. They also conduct outreach and administer suicide prevention efforts within the VA.
According to Brindisi, many coordinators struggle to keep up with their responsibilities, and say they are overworked. He says this law will make more tools and resources available to the coordinators to help prevent an increase in veteran suicide.
Statistics from the VA’s National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report show that between 2005 and 2017, an average of nearly 17 veterans committed suicide each day.
“The suicide rate among our Nation’s veterans is unacceptable,” said Christina M. Balderrama, assistant professor of psychology at Binghamton University. “The timely coordination of appropriate care and resources during a time of crisis is essential to reducing suicide risk. Legislation that supports the effectiveness and functioning of the VA Suicide Prevention Coordinator position is critical to better meet the comprehensive health needs of veterans at risk for death by suicide.”
Last year, President Trump also signed Brindisi’s Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act, which reauthorized assistance programs and services at the VA for 2020.