On Friday, the Department of Veteran Affairs released data showing the number of suicides by veterans ages 18-24 receiving some form of VA health care nearly doubled between 2009 and 2011.
NBC 7 spoke to Veteran Affairs employees in San Diego and found the county is seeing a similar trend.
“On our high-risk here in San Diego, we definitely see a rise in younger veterans,” said Suicide Prevention Coordinator Lindsay Gold. “We have a whole bunch of different risk factors, economy and people coming here. Especially here to San Diego, some people don't have family here.”
NBC 7 spoke to Jean and Howard Somers who were in Washington D.C. this week when top Veteran Affairs officials released the information. Their son, Daniel Somers, an Army National Guard veteran, killed himself last year leaving behind a suicide note about how the government abandoned him when he needed the most help.
Since then, they met with top VA, military and officials to try and get significant changes made.
“And this is Daniel's group. It's not a surprise and makes us work even harder and makes us more determined to see if we can make some change,” said Howard Somers.
The couple has made it their mission to continue the conversation about how the VA can improve their outreach programs and prevent military suicides. They believe there needs to be more accessibility, advocacy and accountability.
In San Diego, the VA Mission Valley Outpatient Clinic is working on ways to improve their program and reach out to veterans before it’s too late.
“We've increased our mental health providers, really try to get people sooner to treatment than long wait times,” Gold told NBC 7.
To contact the Veterans Crisis Hotline 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.