Arizona Gov. Ducey signs legislation to improve tracking of veteran suicides
PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Wednesday that was expected to improve tracking of veteran suicides in the state in hopes of preventing them.
HB 2488 sponsored by Republican Rep. Jay Lawrence, required the state Health Services Department to compile and turn in a comprehensive yearly report on veteran suicides.
That information will be used to help develop policies that can assist veterans at risk of suicide.
“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,” Ducey said in a prepared statement.
The report will begin in January 2020, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
It will track various 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.”
A 2016 Arizona State University study showed that veterans were four times more likely to take their lives than civilians.
The Arizona Violent Death Reporting System said between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of that year, there were 277 suicides out of 299 “known occurrent violent deaths involving veteran victims in the state.”
The governor’s proposed budget for the coming year includes a $1.2 million appropriation to help pay for an ongoing statewide effort to prevent suicides by connecting military members and veterans with needed services.
The program known as “Be Connected” has been funded by the federal government.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.