A new report calls attention to an alarming trend: veterans committing suicides at VA hospitals.
The Washington Post published a lengthy look at the issue Thursday, citing statistics that show there were 19 suicides on VA campuses — seven in parking lots — from October 2017 through November 2018.
What seems to be a common theme, the Post reported, is the veterans felt abandoned by the system that was supposed to protect them and make them better.
"I bet if you look at the 22 suicides a day you will see VA screwed up in 90 percent," 55-year-old veteran Jim Turner, a Marine colonel, wrote in a suicide note left by his body.
He committed suicide in his car at the St. Petersburg, Florida VA hospital.
The Post reported the veteran suicide rate was 26.1 for every 100,000 adults in 2016, significantly higher than the non-veteran rate of 17.4 per 100,000 adults.
The VA did note its staff stopped 233 suicide attempts on its campuses between October 2017 and November 2018.
"These suicides are sentinel events," the University of Rochester's Eric Caine told the Post. "It's very important for the VA to recognize that the place of a suicide can have great meaning. There is a real moral imperative and invitation here to take a close inspection of the quality of services at the facility level."
The VA is trying to address the growing problem of parking lot suicides with new programs aimed at troubled veterans.
Three hundred and twenty-one active-duty service members committed suicide last year, the most since 2012 — which saw an equal number of self-inflicted deaths.
A government report issued in December, meanwhile, claimed the VA does not spend enough money to help prevent veteran suicides.