President releases plan for veteran suicide prevention

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“Just as there is no single cause of suicide, no single organization can end veteran suicide alone.” —VA Secretary Robert Wilkie

In June, the Trump administration released a comprehensive plan to prevent suicide throughout the nation. The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) is a result of collaborative efforts of the departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Health and Human Services; veterans service organizations; and several other organizations to develop a comprehensive strategy for ending the national tragedy of suicide.

PREVENTS will focus on a holistic public health approach to suicide prevention by changing the culture surrounding mental health and suicide prevention through enhanced community integration, prioritized research activities and implementation strategies that emphasize improved overall health and well-being.

“Suicide prevention is the VA’s highest clinical priority, and the department is taking significant steps to address the issue,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “But just as there is no single cause of suicide, no single organization can end veteran suicide alone.”

Secretary Wilkie said PREVENTS aims to bring together stakeholders across all levels of government and in the private sector to work side by side to provide veterans with the mental health and suicide prevention services they need.

According to the VA, an average of 20 veterans die each day by suicide, and veterans have a suicide rate 1.5 times higher than nonveterans.

“The PREVENTS mission involves changing the culture around emotional well-being, mental health and suicide, actions that will take strength and commitment,” said National Commander Butch Whitehead, who was selected as a PREVENTS Ambassador. “DAV is proud to partner with PREVENTS, especially now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has created an even more urgent need for action to prevent veteran suicide.”