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VA’s Newest Suicide Prevention Effort: Targeted Lit Reviews

Nerds unite! The VA has heard our cries of research papers on research papers with neither the time nor bandwidth to read the hundreds to thousands of pages of material that comes out annually around suicide prevention research!

But let me give due diligence here to the thousands of researchers around the world who dedicate their lives to the prevention and understanding of suicide; without their research we would not have the resources and targeted approaches we have today that have saved countless lives.

With that said, unless it’s your full-time job, I would challenge that it’s almost impossible to keep up with the ever-changing research field of suicide prevention. Luckily, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has our back when it comes to understanding veteran suicide. VA recently released “From Science to Practice,” a series of short, 2-page literature reviews focused on topics related to suicide prevention and risk factors and protective factors related to suicide. They’re designed to help clinicians across the country put suicide prevention research into action. However, they’re useful 2-pagers for anyone interested in understanding veteran suicide.

These summaries pair findings on suicide risk, protective factors, and related topics with practical steps for serving veteran patients. The “From Science to Practice” series describes a number of suicide risk and protective factors. For now, the topics available to the public are around loneliness, military sexual assault, and prior traumas.

In reading all of this, it’s important to remember that no single risk or protective factor on its own causes or protects against suicide.

Engaging the public in suicide prevention discussions is one of the key priority issues in IAVA’s most recent Policy Agenda. Part of that engagement is developing understanding around the risk and protective factors for suicide both in the public space and for clinicians that are seeing veterans as patients every day. We’re supportive of VA’s efforts to educate providers and the public on this critical issue. We know suicide prevention is the top priority for IAVA members, you told us so in our latest Member Survey. That’s why it is our #1 priority in our Big 6. And we’ll continue to fight for awareness, prevention, and increased recognition of the crisis that is veteran suicide.

Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, can contact the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential crisis intervention and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

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