Harkin Honored by Suicide Prevention Action Network

JULY 20TH, 2007 | ryan.alexander

Senator Tom Harkin was honored by the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN USA) yesterday for his work in the Senate to help prevent suicide among our veterans, specifically with regards to the “The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act” (S. 479) which Senator Harkin introduced earlier this year.

The bill is named for Iowa-native Joshua Omvig, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following a 11-month tour of duty in Iraq, and committed suicide in his home. If signed into law by President Bush, the act would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program to reduce suicides among veterans, make available a 24-hour mental health care for at-risk veterans, and develop education programs for veterans and their families so they can recognize the early-warning signs shown by loved ones who may be considering suicide.

Veterans returning from combat are at a higher-than-average risk for suicide, with data showing that 19% of all suicides in the United States are committed by veterans when veterans only comprise 11% of the population. Furthermore, over two-thirds of those who die by suicide each year were not receiving any mental health treatment before their death, indicating that if more people had access to mental health programs, we could get more people the help they need to prevent suicide.

The bill is one of many that Senator Harkin has supported to help and support our troops while they are deployed and when they return home from combat. The house version of the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Leonard Boswell, passed the house 423 to 0 with 10 members not voting.

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