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State Rep. Dave Griffith (R-Jefferson City) speaks on the Missouri House floor on April 12, 2022. He chairs the House Veterans Committee (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Missouri leads nation in veteran suicides, area lawmaker says

State Rep. Dave Griffith (R-Jefferson City) speaks on the Missouri House floor on April 12, 2022. He chairs the House Veterans Committee (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

A mid-Missouri lawmaker who chairs the House Veterans Committee says Missouri leads the nation in veteran suicides.

State Rep. Dave Griffith (R-Jefferson City) chairs the House interim committee on veteran mental health and suicide, which will hold a hearing on the issue at 11 this (Wednesday) morning at the Statehouse.

“I’d like for Missouri to be first in almost everything. This is one number I wish we were last,” Griffith says.

Chairman Griffith tells 939 the Eagle that 146 Missouri veterans committed suicide last year, and he says the numbers have increased during the COVID pandemic.

The Missouri Veterans Commission, the Missouri Department of Mental Health and various mental health organizations will testify at the 11 am hearing, which is open to the public.

“My hope is at the end of all this, that we can not only look at the suicide and mental health issues we’ve got in the veteran community, but to expand it even further to the general population,” says Griffith.

The chairman says he went directly to House Speaker Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) about forming the interim committee, and that Speaker Vescovo gave him his full support. Griffith also emphasizes the issue is bipartisan, saying committee State Reps. LaDonna Appelbaum (D-St. Louis County) and Robert Sauls (D-Independence) are his friends and care passionately about this issue.

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