News Releases

Suicide prevention bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature

Murray: “We simply must do more to ensure the men and women who have served our country get the physical, mental, and emotional support they need when they come home”

Washington state is home to over 600,000 veterans

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray voted to pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. Senator Murray is an original co-sponsor of the bill, which would require the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish an annual third-party evaluation of VA’s mental health care and suicide prevention programs, promote greater collaboration with community mental health resources, and create a pilot program to attract and retain Department psychiatrists. The bill is also designed to combat veteran suicide by improving the quality of care at VA facilities and creating a strong base for future mental health initiatives. This bill passes at a critical time when suicide rates continue to rise among female veterans who use VA care, and the rate of suicide has skyrocketed to 79 per 100,000 among male veterans ages 18-24 who use VA services.

"Every day, twenty-two American veterans die from suicide, so as a country, we simply must do more to ensure the men and women who have served our country get the physical, mental, and emotional support they need when they come home,” said Senator Murray. “This legislation will help the VA continue taking steps to make sure it is doing everything it can, from prevention programs to improved recruitment of mental health providers, to giving our nation’s heroes the care they deserve.”

Throughout her career, Senator Murray has been an advocate for service members, veterans, and their families. In 2012 Senator Murray passed the Mental Health ACCESS Act which improved access to the VA’s mental health support services and care. According to a VA report published in 2013, over 25 percent of all suicides in Washington state were identified as veterans, among the highest group of states reporting suicides by veteran status.

The Clay Hunt bill passed the House on January 12th, 2015. Now after Senate passage, it heads to the President’s desk for his signature.