By Debbie Gregory.
A proposal for new state legislation in California that will help confront the issue of veteran suicides has been introduced by Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula and Assemblyman Jim Patterson.
AB 242 would require death certificates to reflect whether the deceased person was ever a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Currently, details such as marital status, birthplace and occupation are required on death certificates, but military service is not.
“Getting ahead of the suicide, getting help when it’s needed, not after it’s too late, and I think this is a good first step,” said Patterson.
The bill would also require the California Department of Health compile a report on veteran suicides, beginning in 2019.
“As a physician, I know accurate data will help us better understand the full scope of the problem of veteran suicides in California,” Arambula said. “Tracking this information will help determine whether or not existing suicide prevention efforts are having a positive effect, if more attention to this matter is needed in the future and where to allocate existing resources for mental health funding.”
“I have no question this information will be very helpful,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen, who voted for the bill in the Senate Veteran’s Affair Committee. “To our various veteran operations in the area, we can identify and allot them resources they desperately need.”
If passed into law, Arambula, an emergency room doctor, said California will join 21 other states in implementing such an effort to better calculate veteran suicide deaths.
The legislation is to be heard before the Senate Appropriations Committee at the end of this month after the legislators return from recess.