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Va Press Release


Berta
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(you all know that the suicide issue was one of the worst problems the VA ever had -in the long run however, the problems VA had brought more suicide awareness to the front and potentially lives have been saved)

"Recent VA News Releases

VA Suicide Prevention Panel Completes Draft Report

Group Lauds VA's Comprehensive Strategy

WASHINGTON (Sept. 9, 2008) - A blue-ribbon panel has praised the

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for its "comprehensive strategy" in

suicide prevention that includes a "number of initiatives and

innovations that hold great promise for preventing suicide attempts and

completions."

Among the initiatives and innovations the group studied were VA's

Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK. The lifeline is staffed

by trained professionals 24 hours a day to deal with any immediate

crisis that may be taking place. Nearly 33,000 veterans, family members

or friends of veterans have called the lifeline in the year that it has

been operating. Of those, there have been more than 1,600 rescues to

prevent possible tragedy.

Other initiatives noted included the hiring of suicide prevention

coordinators at each of VA's 153 medical facilities, the establishment

of a Mental Health Center of Excellence in Canandaigua, N.Y., focusing

on developing and testing clinical and public health intervention

standards for suicide prevention, the creation of an additional research

center on suicide prevention in Denver, which focuses on research in the

clinical and neurobiological conditions that can lead to increased

suicide risk and a plus-up in staff making more than 400 mental health

professionals entirely dedicated to suicide prevention.

With the praise, the panel also recommended a mixture of more research,

greater cooperation among federal agencies, and more education for

health care workers and community leaders to further strengthen and

share VA's ability to help veterans and their families.

"Every human life is precious, none more than the men and women who

serve this nation in the military," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Dr. James B. Peake. "The report of this blue-ribbon panel, and other

efforts underway, will ensure VA mobilizes its full resources to care

for our most vulnerable veterans."

Called the "Blue Ribbon Work Group on Suicide Prevention," the

five-member group was composed of suicide prevention experts from VA,

the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, the National Institute of Health, and the Substance Abuse

and Mental Health Services Administration. The group was created by

Peake and met June 11-13, 2008.

Among the panel's recommendations to further enhance VA's outstanding

programs, many of which VA has already begun to implement, are:

* Design a study that will identify suicide risk among veterans of

different conflicts, ages, genders, military branches and other factors.

VA has committed to work with other federal agencies to design such a

study within 30 days.

* Improve VA's screening for suicide among veterans with

depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). VA is in the

process of designing a new screening protocol, with pilot test

undertaken during the fiscal year quarter beginning Oct. 1, 2008.

* Ensure that evidence-based research is used to determine the

appropriateness of medications for depression, PTSD and suicidal

behavior. VA's is providing written warnings to patients about side

effects, and the Department's suicide prevention coordinators are

contacting health care providers to advise them of the latest

evidence-based research on medications.

* Devise a policy for protecting the confidential records of VA

patients who may also be treated by the military's health care system.

VA is already developing a plan to clarify the privacy rights of

patients who come to VA while serving in the military.

* Increase research about suicide prevention. VA has announced

several funding opportunities this year for research on suicide

prevention and is developing priorities for suicide prevention research.

* Develop educational materials about suicide prevention for

families and community groups. VA is examining the effectiveness of

support groups and educational material for the families of suicidal

veterans, and producing a brochure for the families of veterans with

traumatic brain injury about suicide, which will be available within 30

days.

* Increase training for VA chaplains about the warning signs of

suicide. VA offices responsible for chaplains and mental health

professionals are studying ways to implement this recommendation, with a

report due by Nov. 1.

* Develop a gun-safety program for veterans with children in the

home, both as a child-safety measure and a suicide prevention effort. A

VA directive establishing the program is being developed, with full

implementation expected during the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2008.

VA is the nation's largest provider of mental health care. More than

17,000 mental health professionals, including dedicated suicide

prevention coordinators in each of VA's 153 medical centers, are

available to care for veterans. The Department's mental health program

this year is funded at more than $3 billion."

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I agree it's good to hear all of the positive changes that are going to take place, but the VA needs to look at the real problem-the basics.

My example for today: I was an appt today with my new tdoc (therapist) and she is also new to the VA (has been there about 3-4 weeks). She was going to do a Suicide Risk Assessment on me and couldn't find it in the computer and asked me if I knew how to get to it in the VA computer system!! Wow. Maybe they need to start with more employee training.

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My local AFB newspaper carried an article from the Associated Press titled "Soldier suicide rate may set record again, Army says". It says the Army had 115 suicides in 2007 and expects it to exceed that this year.

I suspect the Army will handle the problem by trying to identify possible suicide risks and removing them from active duty. This will make their statistics look good, but the problem will not go away, it will only be shifted to the VA.

I wonder how many suicides the AF, Navy and Marines have.

If the Military could just remove the Souls from these people, they wouldn't have these problems.

Stan

(you all know that the suicide issue was one of the worst problems the VA ever had -in the long run however, the problems VA had brought more suicide awareness to the front and potentially lives have been saved)

"Recent VA News Releases

VA Suicide Prevention Panel Completes Draft Report

Group Lauds VA's Comprehensive Strategy

WASHINGTON (Sept. 9, 2008) - A blue-ribbon panel has praised the

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for its "comprehensive strategy" in

suicide prevention that includes a "number of initiatives and

innovations that hold great promise for preventing suicide attempts and

completions."

Among the initiatives and innovations the group studied were VA's

Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK. The lifeline is staffed

by trained professionals 24 hours a day to deal with any immediate

crisis that may be taking place. Nearly 33,000 veterans, family members

or friends of veterans have called the lifeline in the year that it has

been operating. Of those, there have been more than 1,600 rescues to

prevent possible tragedy.

Other initiatives noted included the hiring of suicide prevention

coordinators at each of VA's 153 medical facilities, the establishment

of a Mental Health Center of Excellence in Canandaigua, N.Y., focusing

on developing and testing clinical and public health intervention

standards for suicide prevention, the creation of an additional research

center on suicide prevention in Denver, which focuses on research in the

clinical and neurobiological conditions that can lead to increased

suicide risk and a plus-up in staff making more than 400 mental health

professionals entirely dedicated to suicide prevention.

With the praise, the panel also recommended a mixture of more research,

greater cooperation among federal agencies, and more education for

health care workers and community leaders to further strengthen and

share VA's ability to help veterans and their families.

"Every human life is precious, none more than the men and women who

serve this nation in the military," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Dr. James B. Peake. "The report of this blue-ribbon panel, and other

efforts underway, will ensure VA mobilizes its full resources to care

for our most vulnerable veterans."

Called the "Blue Ribbon Work Group on Suicide Prevention," the

five-member group was composed of suicide prevention experts from VA,

the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, the National Institute of Health, and the Substance Abuse

and Mental Health Services Administration. The group was created by

Peake and met June 11-13, 2008.

Among the panel's recommendations to further enhance VA's outstanding

programs, many of which VA has already begun to implement, are:

* Design a study that will identify suicide risk among veterans of

different conflicts, ages, genders, military branches and other factors.

VA has committed to work with other federal agencies to design such a

study within 30 days.

* Improve VA's screening for suicide among veterans with

depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). VA is in the

process of designing a new screening protocol, with pilot test

undertaken during the fiscal year quarter beginning Oct. 1, 2008.

* Ensure that evidence-based research is used to determine the

appropriateness of medications for depression, PTSD and suicidal

behavior. VA's is providing written warnings to patients about side

effects, and the Department's suicide prevention coordinators are

contacting health care providers to advise them of the latest

evidence-based research on medications.

* Devise a policy for protecting the confidential records of VA

patients who may also be treated by the military's health care system.

VA is already developing a plan to clarify the privacy rights of

patients who come to VA while serving in the military.

* Increase research about suicide prevention. VA has announced

several funding opportunities this year for research on suicide

prevention and is developing priorities for suicide prevention research.

* Develop educational materials about suicide prevention for

families and community groups. VA is examining the effectiveness of

support groups and educational material for the families of suicidal

veterans, and producing a brochure for the families of veterans with

traumatic brain injury about suicide, which will be available within 30

days.

* Increase training for VA chaplains about the warning signs of

suicide. VA offices responsible for chaplains and mental health

professionals are studying ways to implement this recommendation, with a

report due by Nov. 1.

* Develop a gun-safety program for veterans with children in the

home, both as a child-safety measure and a suicide prevention effort. A

VA directive establishing the program is being developed, with full

implementation expected during the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2008.

VA is the nation's largest provider of mental health care. More than

17,000 mental health professionals, including dedicated suicide

prevention coordinators in each of VA's 153 medical centers, are

available to care for veterans. The Department's mental health program

this year is funded at more than $3 billion."

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The statistics are not only horrifying-and growing (and we did many shows on suicides in vets at SVR-most recently Jerrel Cook interviewed Janet Kemp -VA Suicide Program Director)-

but the VA now has an all out effort (finally) to do something about this.

Many PTSD and OIF OEF vets got a letter from VA via Dr. Sussman as to the signs that vets and their loved ones must watch out for-I posted the letter here-

available under search----

The VA did piss poorly in the H VAC committee hearings- Peake and Katz squirmed in their seats- over the interrogations they got from VAC members-on this issue- it was AWFUL-they didnt have a clue as to just how many vets have committed suicide.

VA is trying to change all this and we can help them- we have to- many of us know suicidal veterans-

the suicide hot line number is 1-800-273-8255-

Best to get the vet or have a family member convince them to call-or the family member for them- this is too much for any of us to get these calls and then be able to react- as we arent usually professionals who know how to deal with this-

If I get a call like this from suicidal vets (unfortunately I have a few times over the years and even from widows recently-) I only answer caller ID calls - if I pick up the phone at all-but if I get a call like this- then I call 911 on my cell phone or the local state police dispatcher,while the vet is on the line with me-

this is serious business and we all have to react fast -best for any vet with these thoughts to call the hot line number-pr their family members-

It is too much responsibility for a non professional to deal with-

and there certainly is Hope and help out there-

Edited by Berta
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