28 Mar 2019

US Department of Veteran’s Affairs calls for suicide prevention strategies

The US DoD and Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) have called for suicide prevention strategies ahead of a conference on mental health.

The call for suicide prevention ideas comes ahead of a conference in August examining the impact of mental health on US Veterans and personnel. The two departments will join to organise the biannual conference and are inviting researchers and organisations to present their strategies.

The 2019 VA/DoD Suicide Prevention Conference, taking place 26-29 August venue TBC, will explore public health approaches to tackling the rate of mental health issues among veterans and servicemen and women. Entries for presentations will be accepted until 11:59 pm EST on 29 March.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said: “Suicide is a national public health concern. It’s critical that everyone work collectively to develop impactful solutions to suicide risk that meet the needs of America’s service members and Veterans. This conference is a chance for subject matter experts from across the country to come together and share comprehensive strategies to prevent suicide nationwide.”

The conference will be led by the National Strategy for the Prevention of Veteran Suicide and Department of Defence Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Researchers, clinicians, community leaders, nonprofit organisations, and business leaders are invited to take part.

The VA recommends that anyone in crisis or experiencing thoughts of suicide should call their hotline on 800-273-8255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat and in the UK, Combat Stress runs a 24-hour free helpline at 0800 138 1619. Experts recommend looking for the signs of suicidal thoughts in others including mood swings, becoming withdrawn, increasing drug or alcohol use, and talking about suicide or feelings of hopelessness.

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