[GUEST COLUMN] Lawrence: Solving the veteran suicide crisis in Arizona begins with accurate statistics

Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents the family of veteran Antouine Castaneda

By Jay Lawrence, Arizona District 23 Representative | Scottsdale Independent

Jay Lawrence

We can all agree that we have a crisis in terms of the rising number of veteran suicides. But when it comes to defining the scope of the problem, there are challenges. That’s because we have no state law on compiling veteran suicides. Twenty-two states have such a law and I have proposed legislation for Arizona to do the same.

In July, I had the pleasure of meeting the family and friends of U.S. Army Ranger Antouine Castaneda who tragically took his own life three years ago. His family says Antouine would be alive today had he received the care he needed from the Phoenix Veterans Administration.

As the federal government works to right the wrongs of the past in terms of veterans’ services, we can take action on a state level.

That’s why I have proposed legislation that would require the Arizona Department of Health Services to track and compile statistics on veteran suicides working with law enforcement, county coroners, and as needed researchers from Arizona State University who have published some eye-opening studies.

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