On Jan. 30, at its annual Chapter Leadership Conference, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) announced a milestone partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The three organizations have been champions for service member and veteran suicide prevention for many years, but this announcement marks the first time they are joining together to reduce service member and veteran suicide.
(When you ask how someone is doing and get the response “I’m good,” do you ever give it a second thought? The VA and the DoD have come together to create a video that addresses this question. “I’m Good” features actual Veterans and Service members talking about the conflicting feelings that sometimes underlie offhand responses like “I’m good.” It also highlights the important role that families, friends, co-workers, and other acquaintances can play in helping to prevent suicide. The video emphasizes the importance of being there for the people in our lives who, though they may not always show it, aren’t doing so well. Courtesy of the Veterans Health Administration and YouTube)
“As the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is proud to announce two new partners in the fight to prevent suicide – DOD and VA,” said Bob Gebbia, AFSP CEO.
“We know from research that suicide is a national public health issue that impacts all Americans, including our service members and Veterans.”
“By having the DOD and the VA involved, we can make it a top priority to reach the men and women who serve, and have served, our country.”
“VA and DOD have endorsed AFSP’s goal of reducing the national suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025 and will not stop in our efforts to work towards eliminating suicide among our service members and veterans,” said Dr. Keita Franklin, acting national director of suicide prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Suicide is a national public health issue that impacts people of all ages, and prevention requires the cooperation and commitment of communities across the nation.”
“Reducing veteran suicide is VA’s highest clinical priority, and this partnership is a momentous step in advancing our work.”
Formalizing this partnership allows AFSP, DOD and VA to mobilize their respective nationwide networks of staff and volunteers towards a shared goal of reducing service member and veteran suicide.
This partnership is a powerful example of the public health approach to suicide prevention in action, allowing all three organizations to reach service members and veterans where they are.
The partnership will also enhance the ability of AFSP, DOD and VA to share evidence-based best practices and strategies to prevent suicide, helping advance the entire field of suicide prevention.
“Ensuring consistency throughout our communities — that our service members and veterans have access to resources before, while, and after wearing the uniform, and that the transition is seamless — is vital to our collective goal of reducing suicide,” said George Parisi, acting director, Defense Suicide Prevention Office, Department of Defense.
“Partnering with AFSP and VA is key to ensuring service members, veterans, and their families receive the support they need.”
(Learn More. “Bittersweet,” from VA’s Office for Suicide Prevention, shows the importance of support from family and friends for Veterans and Service members going through a difficult time. Most of us navigate changes in life — such as sending a child off to college, retiring, or dealing with the loss of a loved one — which can sometimes contribute to feelings of hopelessness or even thoughts of suicide. That’s why support from loved ones, and from others in our communities, can make a big difference. Courtesy of the Veterans Health Administration and YouTube)