Report: Calls to VA suicide hotline went to voicemail

AP News
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Posted: Feb 17, 2016 3:17 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A watchdog report says a suicide hotline operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs has allowed crisis calls to go into voicemail and that callers did not always receive immediate assistance.

The report by the VA's office of inspector general says calls to the suicide hotline have increased dramatically in recent years, with about 1 in 6 calls redirected to backup centers when the crisis line is overloaded. The report said calls at some backup centers went to voicemail, including at least one center where staffers apparently were unaware there was a voicemail system.

The crisis hotline was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary in 2014.

A VA spokeswoman said the agency agrees with the report's recommendations and is working to upgrade the hotline to better serve veterans.