Innovations in Military and Veteran Suicide Prevention
Protecting the 1% of the population that protects the rest is a top priority for the United States (US) Department of Defense (DoD) and political leaders alike. With the country at war for almost two decades, the USA is now seeing the impact those wars have had on veterans. After this epidemic came to light, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and DoD implemented many suicide prevention programs and interventions. One of the changes is implementing mandatory training focused on identifying suicide risk factors for active duty veterans to better identify when their fellow veterans may need help. Additionally, in the past 5 years the DoD has attempted to decrease the stigma associated with receiving mental health treatment by emboldening leaders to be open about their own troubles while encouraging the people they lead to seek help. However, the stigma of receiving or seeking mental health is still a major issue in the military, especially in the Special Forces community where 49 operators have killed themselves in the last few years. Another point is increasing treatment availability and possible interventions offered through the VA. An increased focus on the VA within the past 5 years has been due to a lack of service provision and hardships associated with seeking mental health treatment. New social programs such as Rubicon, Wounded Warrior, and other veteran services and their effect on suicide and overall mental health of veterans should be considered. Lastly, studies have shown culture plays a large role in suicide risk. The military culture is one that uniquely traverses ethnicity, language, and country. Tailoring suicide prevention with military culture in mind and identifying risks could help decrease veteran suicide.
KeywordsVeteran suicide prevention Institution level suicide prevention Ask Care Escort (ACE) model Suicide distress Armed forces
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