The Department of Veterans Affairs announced it is now working with more than 1,000 local community coalitions engaged in ending Veteran suicide. These coalitions, established through VA’s Public Health Model for Suicide Prevention, now reach more than 7.5 million Veterans nationwide.
By combining community coalitions with clinical intervention strategies as outlined in VA’s National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide, these coalitions help reduce the risk of suicide by providing Veterans with tailored resources and direct support in the communities where they work and live. One example is the Monona County Suicide Prevention Coalition in Iowa, which recently implemented an “Ask the Question” campaign to open lines of communication between Veterans, their community members, and their medical providers.
Preventing Veteran suicide is VA’s top clinical priority and a top priority of the Biden-Harris administration, as outlined in the White House Strategy for Preventing Military and Veteran Suicide 2021. In September, VA released the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, which showed Veteran suicides decreased from 2019 to 2020, and fewer Veterans died by suicide in 2020 than in any year since 2006.
“One suicide will always be one too many, and it will take all of us — working together — to end Veteran suicide,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “We are working with these coalitions to support Veterans at risk of suicide all across America, combining VA’s clinical expertise with on-the-ground community interventions to save lives.”
As a part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda and the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive plan to reduce military and Veteran suicide, VA has recently announced or continued several additional efforts to end Veteran suicide. In January, VA announced Veterans in acute suicidal crisis can go to any VA or non-VA health care facility for emergent suicide care including inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days. In response to the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act designating the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, the Department of Veterans Affairs has made it more user friendly to access the Veterans Crisis Line with Dial 988 then Press 1. VA has also awarded $20 million through Mission Daybreak, a grand challenge aimed at developing innovations to reduce Veteran suicides; granted more than $52 million to 80 community-based organizations through the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program; conducted an ongoing public outreach effort on firearm suicide prevention and lethal means safety; and leveraged a national Veteran suicide prevention awareness campaign, “Don’t Wait. Reach Out.”
Local communities can learn more about how to establish coalitions by visiting the Community Based Interventions for Suicide Prevention Overview and emailing VHASPPCBISP@va.gov.