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Public Statements

Suicide Prevention Month

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. TITUS. Well, I too would like to thank my friend from the southwest, Congresswoman Sinema, for hosting this special hour to draw attention to Suicide Prevention Month, which we recognize here in September.

Suicide within any population is a traumatic thing to deal with. But we are learning that it is increasingly important and increasingly a problem among our military and our veterans. It's critical that we work to address, to recognize, to prevent, and to eliminate military suicides. And I hope that today's Special Order will help to shine a bright light on this very important topic.

Suicide within the military is a national problem. You have heard my colleagues speak about it in their districts and their State and across the country. But it is especially acute in my home State of Nevada. A recent study done by the State of Nevada found that veterans in the Silver State commit suicide at a rate of more than 2 1/2 times higher than nonveterans and quadruple the national rate. The study further reported that Nevada's female veterans, those often hidden veterans, commit suicide at more than triple the overall rate for females statewide and nearly six times--six times--the national rate for females. The study also found that in 2010, suicide accounted for more than a quarter of the deaths among young veterans--those between 24 years and younger--throughout the State of Nevada. This is a trend we just cannot allow to continue.

As other speakers have noted, every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. Almost every hour, one of our Nation's heroes takes his or her life. Nearly one in five suicides nationally is a veteran, even though veterans make up only about 10 percent of the U.S. population.

As ranking member of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance, I'm working every day with my colleagues to ensure that veterans receive all the benefits that they've earned and the care that they need. So if you are a veteran who is struggling with thoughts of suicide or you are the friend or family member of a veteran who needs help, please contact us. Reach out to us because we need to know what the VA can do to better support and serve you.

I would also encourage my colleagues to cosponsor H.R. 2527, which is the National Guard Military Sexual Trauma Parity Act. This would ensure that members of the Guard receive all the care they need if they're a victim of military sexual trauma while on training missions. We know that if you are a victim and you suffer such trauma, that can often lead to suicide.

On our committee, we're constantly working to ensure that the VA is providing care for our veterans struggling with the thought of suicide. But it's also important that we reach out and assure veterans that they know that receiving help is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it's a sign of strength.

When Army Staff Sergeant Ty Carter received a Medal of Honor, he encouraged his fellow soldiers to reach out and for the civilian community to support them. He said to the public, ``Know that they are not damaged. They are simply burdened with living with what others do not. We are resilient and will emerge even stronger over time.'' Sergeant Carter, we know that because of leaders like you and the support of a grateful Nation, we can win the battle against military suicide.

So, again, let us hear from you. And let me remind veterans and those who love them that the VA operates a confidential support center that's open 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. And please call if you need support. Their phone number is 1-800-273-8255, and then just press number 1. You can also send a text message to 838255.

So don't hesitate to reach out. Someone will be there to hear you. Just as you never leave a fellow soldier on the battlefield, we can't leave anyone behind when they come home. When they come home with wounds that are both visible and hidden, we should be there.

So thank you to my colleagues and to the Congresswoman from Arizona for giving us an opportunity to send this message loud and clear.


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