Serving and suicide

On Monday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced a 35-point legislative initiative for veterans, including a new cemetery in Duluth, and money to study their mental health needs.

If some investigative work by CBS News this week is all accurate, there’s valuable data Minnesota can use.

No federal agency has tracked suicide rates among veterans, including those returning from Iraq. So CBS went to all 50 states, got 45 of them to provide death information, and calculated that vets are twice as likely as non-vets to kill themselves. And those who served in the “war on terror” had the highest suicide rate of all vets.

The challenge Minnesota — and other states — will face is that the traditional characteristics of a person considering suicide differ between vets and non-vets, so in many cases, most doctors may be missing the warning signs, because they don’t know what they are.

And the clock is ticking.

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