Every day, 20 veterans take their own lives somewhere in the United States. In North Carolina, five veterans die by suicide each week.
This is a growing problem. Since 2001, the rate of suicide among veterans has increased by 32 percent, according the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Reducing the number of veteran suicides is the top priority at the VA, said Harold Kudler, acting assistant deputy under secretary for patient care services at the VA central office. Kudler spent decades working as a psychiatrist at the Durham VA Medical Center, where he focused on post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kudler spoke at a veteran suicide prevention conference in Raleigh on Tuesday, along with N.C. Health and Human Services Sec. Mandy Cohen.