Of the 1,392 Georgians who killed themselves in 2017, 194 were veterans, according to the Veterans Affairs Department. Nationwide that year, 45,390 people took their lives and 14% of them were veterans.
“Although Georgia has already begun to implement suicide prevention efforts, participation in this important initiative will allow us to further enact best policies and practices and advance our suicide prevention efforts by using a comprehensive public health approach,” Kemp wrote in a letter to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Kemp signed his letter to SAMHSA after touring the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program, which treats anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. The two-week intensive outpatient program at Emory is free for military service members and veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001.
Barbara Rothbaum, a psychologist who leads the program at Emory, hailed Kemp’s decision.
“We really need to get the message across that treatment helps,” she said. “If you treat people effectively, it is going to help save lives.”