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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 42,773 suicides in 2014 in the United States, or 117 suicides each day. About 18 percent of those who die by suicide are Veterans.
Veterans can be at risk for suicide for a variety of reasons. Some are coping with aging, stress, or lingering effects stemming from their military service that have never been addressed. Many have underlying mental health conditions or substance use disorders, in some cases aggravated by their military service, which increases their risk. Many recently discharged Veterans have difficulty with personal relationships or their transition back to civilian life.
VA’s Major Suicide Prevention Accomplishments:
• 2007: Established a Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention in Canandaigua, New York
• 2012: Completed a report providing data on suicides and attempted suicides among Veterans
o Found that the experience of killing in war was strongly associated with thoughts of suicide
• 2016: Determined that Veterans receiving high doses of opioid painkillers were more than twice as likely to die by suicide than those receiving low doses
o Announced a series of actions to reduce Veteran suicide, including using data on suicide attempts and overdoses to guide prevention strategies
o Launched the REACH VET program, which analyzes existing data to identify Veterans at a statistically elevated risk for suicide and allows VA to provide them with pre-emptive care and support
Below is a news story that illustrates VA’s commitment to advancing technology and research initiatives to benefit our nation’s Veterans.
Heidi Linn is a psychiatric nurse at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System. In her role, she’s on what she calls the “front lines” of caring for Veterans with suicidal thoughts.
She often turns to resources on suicide prevention to learn more about what she can do to help her patients.
One such resource is a new VA educational series called “From Science to Practice.” The program is run by VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. It translates published research into informative tips that VA suicide prevention coordinators and providers can use to support their patients. The focus is on relaying suicide risk factors and preventive measures in a concise, easy-to-absorb way. Read more..
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