A veteran in the visitor parking lot of the Charles George VA Medical Center in North Carolina died by suicide Sunday morning, just ahead of a Department of Veterans Affairs and Pentagon biennial suicide prevention conference scheduled for this month.
The veteran's death is under investigation by the Asheville Police Department, Charles George VA officials said in a release. Details about the veteran, including name and service, were not released.
"We are saddened by this loss and extend our deepest condolences to the Veteran's family, friends and caregivers," officials said in the release.
The suicide prevention conference is scheduled for August 26 to 29 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The death is the latest in a series of veteran suicides in the parking lots of VA facilities across the country.
Dr. Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, told the Senate Veterans Affairs committee in April that more than 260 suicide attempts had been recorded at VA facilities, but that staff had intervened in about 240 of them. He did not specify over what time period the attempts occurred.
Between October 2017 and November 2018, 19 veterans died by suicide at VA medical facilities, according the Washington Post.
Charles George VA facility officials said in the statement that suicide prevention is the administration's "number one clinical priority."
"Charles George VA Medical Center and its community outpatient clinics at Hickory, Rutherford County, and Franklin have many services for Veterans who are struggling with mental health concerns, such as depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, military sexual trauma, and substance use disorders," they said.
The Veterans Crisis Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-273-8255, press 1. Services also are available online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or by text, 838255.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was updated Aug. 7 to accurately reflect the date and location of the DoD and VA suicide prevention conference.