November 16, 2023

Ranking Member Takano's Statement on Annual Veterans Suicide Report

Press Contact

Libby Carlson

WASHINGTON, DC --  House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mark Takano (CA-39) released the following statement after the release of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) 2023 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, which showed a slight increase from 2020 to 2021 in veteran suicide deaths: 

“A life lost to suicide is a tragedy, and sadly we saw an increase in both civilian and veteran suicide deaths in calendar year 2021 – the time period covered by this report. While this is not the direction we want to see, over the last four years Congress and VA have worked to address many of the factors that increase the risk of suicide. I will continue to fight for approaches that work, and to address issues such as homelessness, food insecurity, economic security, and lethal means safety. 

In 2019, VA began implementing a true public health approach to suicide prevention, with both community-based and clinically-based prevention strategies. It was this approach that prompted me to author the Veterans COMPACT Act of 2020, which was signed into law almost three years ago. The cornerstone of my legislation was a provision that allows VA to fully cover the cost of emergency stabilization care for any veteran experiencing an acute suicidal crisis—regardless of whether the veteran is already enrolled in or otherwise eligible for VA healthcare, and regardless of whether they seek care at a VA or a non-VA facility. No veteran in crisis should ever have to worry about how they will pay for emergency mental health treatment when they need it, and because of the Veterans COMPACT Act, VA can now cover up to 30 days of inpatient or crisis residential care, or 90 days of intensive outpatient treatment. It is great news that since VA launched this COMPACT Act benefit in January 2023, more than 30,000 veterans have already taken advantage of no-cost emergency mental health services at both VA and non-VA facilities. 

It will take a few years for us to fully see the impact of the COMPACT Act and for this to be reflected in VA’s annual suicide prevention report. However, the number of veteran suicides in the report published today show us how critical the need is for laws like my Veterans COMPACT Act, and how important it is for VA to have every possible tool to respond when veterans are in crisis. 

Today’s National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report also makes clear that the next critical step Congress must take is to enact measures that will reduce the risk of veteran suicide by firearm. VA found in its report that 72 percent of veteran suicides in 2021 were by firearm, that veteran suicides by firearm have increased over the last 20 years, and that 1 in 3 veteran firearm owners store at least one firearm unlocked and unloaded.  

Furthermore, our most vulnerable veterans are not being served by Congress’ inaction on bills to help homeless veterans – who are at greater risk of death by suicide. Today’s report shows the suicide rate for homeless veterans is 186.5 percent higher than for non-homeless veterans. This shocking number should be a call to action to pass the HOME Act, which extends authorities VA needs to provide stable housing for veterans and help veterans with economic security.  

We should be prioritizing what we know works to prevent veteran suicide: lethal means safety, ending veteran homelessness, and making sure veterans know about programs that already exist at VA to help them. 

This is a matter of life and death. I will continue to work on finding solutions to ensure veterans and their families always have the support they need.” 


If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 988 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at