VA’s Public Health approach to suicide prevention focuses on high-risk individuals, emphasizes community-based engagement



We face a problem, a national issue, we can all help address. VA is working to end suicide among Veterans, but only half of the 20 million U.S. Veterans receive care or services from VA. So how do we support all Veterans including those outside our care?

VA’s Suicide Prevention Program recently released this video explaining how the organization is leveraging a public health approach to prevent Veteran suicide.

“We often receive questions about what exactly the public health approach is,” said Wendy Lakso, deputy director, partnerships, VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. “This video is designed to help answer that very question.”

The public health approach maintains the focus on high-risk individuals in health care settings while also emphasizing comprehensive, community-based engagement to identify and help individuals well before they may become at risk of harming themselves.

VA is a national leader in suicide prevention, but VA cannot confront the issue of suicide alone. Because many Veterans do not use VA services and benefits, VA must build effective networks of support, communication, and care across the communities where Veterans live and work every day.

“We are encouraging everyone to share this video with community partners, colleagues, peers, clinicians, families and friends,” Lakso said. “The better we communicate the importance of collaboration, the more lives we can save.”

This video is also available on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1I02OQoWBs.

Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, should call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential crisis intervention and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or send a text message to 838255.

Additional suicide prevention resources for Veterans and families, friends, providers, and community partners are available at: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/resources.asp.


About the author: Dr. Keita Franklin, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is the executive director, suicide prevention, VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. Dr. Franklin serves as the principal advisor to VA leadership for all matters pertaining to suicide prevention.

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