The Biden administration on Tuesday announced a new plan aimed at reducing military and veteran suicides by promoting mental health awareness and safer gun storage.
The widespread plan would include multiple federal agencies, including the departments of Justice, Defense, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Homeland Security.
On average, 17 veterans die each day by suicide in the United States and at least two service members die by suicide every day of the year, the White House said.
In a report accompanying the announcement, President Biden said those lost to suicide include parents, spouses, beloved friends, sons, and daughters.
“Each of these precious lives leaves behind loved ones who feel their absence every single day, like a black hole in the middle of the chests,” he wrote.
The federal agencies will create public awareness campaigns, promote the safer storage of guns and increase training for counselors, crisis responders, and others.
The initiative also includes the Justice Department finalizing a rule proposed in 2016 that would require stores that sell guns to also offer storage and safety devices.
That rule would also require the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to distribute a guidebook to firearms dealers outlining safety steps required under law and additional steps the government recommends.
The Department of Veterans Affairs will ramp up suicide prevention efforts along with offering training for family members of people who could be at high risk for suicide.
In 2020, 580 military personal, including 384 active-duty service members, died by suicide, according to data from the Department of Defense. The suicide rate among active duty service members has increased every year since 2015.
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