A veteran, whose name has not been released, committed suicide in the visitor parking structure at the Charles George VA Medical Center in North Carolina Sunday morning, Aug. 4.
He committed suicide just before 9 a.m. Hospital officials did not release any further details about the veteran, according to MilitaryTimes.
The veteran’s death is under investigation by the Asheville Police Department, Charles George VA officials said in a release.
“We are saddened by this loss and extend our deepest condolences to the veteran’s family, friends, and caregivers,” VA officials said in a statement.
The suicide took place just one day after the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs concluded a suicide prevention conference in Denver, Colorado, from Aug. 1 to 3.
The death is the latest in a series of veteran suicides in the parking lots of VA facilities across the country, Military.com reported.
Nineteen veteran suicides at the VA facilities took place between October 2017 and November 2018. Seven occurred in VA parking lots.
Department officials have also said the rate of suicide on VA medical campuses has decreased in recent years, even as the number of veterans who take their own lives in public areas of those locations has risen.
According to Dr. Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, there has been an excess of 260 suicide attempts at VA facilities in an unspecified time frame, but staff were able to prevent approximately 240 of them.
Dr. Stone told a committee in April, “the nation as a whole must ask itself where society has failed these veterans—a question without a simple answer,” according to Military.com.
There are about 20 veteran suicides daily nationwide and “approximately 14 are among veterans who have never been in contact with the VA. Of those 14, about three are Guard and Reserve members who were never activated,” Stone said.
Suicide prevention is the administration’s “number one clinical priority,” Charles George VA facility officials said in the statement.
“Charles George VA Medical Center and its community outpatient clinics at Hickory, Rutherford County, and Franklin have many services for veterans who are struggling with mental health concerns, such as depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, military sexual trauma, and substance use disorders,” they said.
Veterans and service members facing mental health crises can talk to emergency responders at the Veterans Crisis Line which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To reach the hotline, dial 800-273-8255, press 1. Services also are available online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or by text, 838255.