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Arizona veterans have alarming suicide rate

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2010, file photo, a caisson carries the remains of Army Pfc. Tramaine J. Billingsley during burial services at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. A horse-drawn caisson is provided by the U.S. military for veterans who are eligible for full-honors funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf, File)

PHOENIX — Veterans living in Arizona are at a higher risk for suicide than many other states according to new data from the Arizona Violent Death Reporting System.

393 Arizona veterans died from suicide from January 2015 to June 2016.

“That leads to about 24 veterans a month committing suicide in the state of Arizona,” said Professor Charles Katz, one of the researchers and Director of the Center for Violence Prevention at Arizona State University.

“That’s almost one a day.”

While the majority (263) were in Maricopa and Pima counties, rural areas including La Paz, Graham, Mohave, and Gila had the highest veteran suicide rates.

“There may need to be unique mechanisms set up in rural communities to be able to assist veterans who are returning home,” he said.

It may be some isolation they are facing from being near other military families, or folks in more densely populated areas may have access to different types of resources.

“Veterans [are] about three times more likely to commit suicide than non-veterans,” Katz said. “[And] male veterans are about three times more likely to commit suicide than females.

“We believe that this is most likely a consequence of physical and mental health issues that have occurred as a consequence of their serving the military on behalf of the nation.”

Katz said veterans have served our country and they deserve all the help we can give them.

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