Veteran commits suicide outside VA hospital in Ohio
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
A military veteran took his own life outside the Cleveland VA Medical Center early Monday, according to officials.
The VA Northeast Ohio Health Care System said in a statement that “our deepest condolences go out to the loved ones affected by this death.”
The suicide comes after three veterans took their lives in a five-day span in Georgia and Texas earlier this month.
Gary Pressley, 29, was found in the parking lot of a Georgia facility with a gunshot wound on April 5. Olen Hancock, 68, shot himself near Atlanta and was pronounced dead the following day, and another veteran shot himself in a VA waiting room and died on April 9.
“Every one of these is a gut-wrenching experience for our 24,000 mental health providers and all of us that work for VA,” Richard Stone of the Veterans Health Administration said at the time.
More than 6,000 veterans committed suicide in 2016, according to a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA officials said in January that suicide prevention is the organization’s “top clinical priority.” More than 2 million veterans sought and received help for mental health issues through the VA in 2017.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said earlier this month that ways must be found to combat homelessness, drug abuse and mental illness among veterans.
“The sad thing that we confront every day is that of the 20 veteran suicides that occur across the country 14 of those veterans are outside of our department,” Wilkie said.
“What I’ve envisioned is the opening of the aperture to the states and localities to get them resources to find those veterans. One of the tragedies is that many of those veterans who take their lives come from my father’s era - Vietnam. So we have Americans whose problems in many cases began building when Lyndon Johnson was president. We have to tackle this issue in a way that we haven’t tackled it before.”
Officials urge veterans and concerned relatives to contact the Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255 if they need assistance.