New Data Will Help Inform Arizona’s Efforts To Prevent Veteran Suicide
PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today signed HB 2488, legislation sponsored by Representative Jay Lawrence, directing the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) to submit an annual report improving the tracking of veteran suicides in Arizona.
Veterans face a risk of suicide four times greater than non-veterans in Arizona. Until now, Arizona did not have a formal way to track or report veteran suicides in the state. The new annual report will provide critical data to help Arizona understand and prevent veteran suicide. The report will begin in January 2020 and will track a variety of data points that will provide historical and regional trends and compare Arizona's resident veteran suicide rate to the national rate and other regions across the country.
“Our veterans have sacrificed so much to protect our freedom, and this country and Arizona are going to continue doing everything we can to support our veterans and prevent veteran suicide,” said Governor Ducey. “This legislation will provide Arizona with a necessary tool to understand the issues that cause veteran suicide, and implement data-driven policy to address this devastating issue.”
“There are no easy answers when it comes to veteran suicides. With this new report, Arizona will now be able to define the scope of the devastating problem of veteran suicide and find a way to prevent them and bolster our veterans’ services,” said Representative Lawrence. “I thank my colleagues for the bipartisan support and Governor Ducey for signing this legislation to help Arizona’s veterans.”
The FY2020 budget includes increased funding for Arizona’s “Be Connected” suicide prevention program. The Be Connected program connects service members, veterans and their families to support and resources. In 2018, the program assisted over 2,000 individuals. This investment will also support community outreach efforts to find additional public, private and non-profit partnership opportunities and increase awareness of the critical resources available to Arizona’s military and veteran communities.