House passes Schweyer resolution designating September 'Military Suicide Prevention Month'

State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, said he is pleased that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has unanimously approved his resolution (H.R. 489) designating September 2017 as “Military Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

Schweyer said his legislation focuses on the suicide rate of veterans returning from recent deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“My resolution brings attention to the need for additional suicide prevention efforts and awareness in Pennsylvania,” Schweyer said. “Our veterans fight for our freedom and protect us every day and now we can help to provide them with mental health programs when they return home.”

According to Schweyer, a U.S.  Department of Veterans Affairs study found that nearly 8,000 veterans committed suicide in 2010, an average of 22 veterans per day. That particular suicide rate is nearly 50 percent higher than the suicide rate among civilians of similar demographics.

Schweyer said the Lehigh Valley has a number of fabulous organizations such as One Fight Foundation, Hope for Veterans and Treatment Trends that provide guidance to our returning men and women.

In 2012, an Austin Texas newspaper, The American-Statesmen, investigated the deaths of 266 veterans in Texas who served during either the Iraq or Afghanistan war. The study found that 45 of the 266 veterans committed suicide, making it the fourth-leading cause of death behind blindness, accidents and drug–related deaths. During the same time period, suicide accounted for just 3.6 percent of total deaths statewide. This data stands in stark comparison with the 16.9 percent suicide rate among the veterans investigated by the newspaper.