Each year, September marks Suicide Prevention Month, a time to highlight important messages about suicide risk and available treatments and resources. The Defense Health Agency’s theme for 2019 Suicide Prevention Month is “Make it Your Mission to Be There.” The goal is to encourage people to learn more about suicide warning signs and supportive responses so they can be there for a family member, friend or peer who may be at risk.
Mental health care providers in military clinics and commands around the world are busy planning suicide prevention activities, trainings, and resource fairs for September and PHCoE can help. Visit our 2019 Suicide Prevention Month webpage and find an array of resources including clinical tools and webinars for providers, patient and family handouts, information on firearm safety and storage, and posters you can download and hang in your clinics.
Follow PHCoE’s Facebook page all month for daily posts with suicide prevention information and resources. Like, comment, and share our content on your channels with the hashtag #BeThere. The Real Warriors Campaign, PHCoE’s anti-stigma mental health campaign, will also share suicide prevention information and resources throughout the month on its website and social media channels.
Order free hard copy materials for dissemination in your commands and clinics from PHCoE and the inTransition program. Real Warriors materials,including a Suicide Prevention Tools for Warriors fact sheet, can also be downloaded or ordered for free at any time.
In September, our Clinician’s Corner blog series (for mental health providers who work with service members) will focus on new ideas and research findings in the field of suicidology, guidance for military leaders who support those impacted by suicide, and tips for understanding suicide research data.
Dr. Peter Gutierrez and Dr. Thomas Joiner, co-directors of the Military Suicide Research Consortium, will highlight DoD-funded efforts to study the full spectrum of issues related to suicide in the military. Dr. Larry Pruitt, director for suicide prevention at the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, will share general considerations and specific steps commanders can take following a suicide death to support wellness and recovery in their units. Dr. Derek Smolenski, PHCoE epidemiologist, will explain important nuances for interpreting and comparing suicide mortality rates. Dr. Brad Belsher, PHCoE chief of research translation and integration, will provide an overview of the current evidence base for suicide prediction models. Navy Lt. and command psychologist Marcus VanSickle will provide information on how to manage suicide risk and access to firearms.
We appreciate the efforts of those who work each day to provide care and support for service members and veterans struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings. Our Suicide Prevention Month communication tools and resources can help you spread the word about suicide risk and treatment and make it your mission to #BeThere.
Dr. Tucker is a suicide prevention subject matter expert at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence. She has a master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology and has worked with service members hospitalized for suicidality.
The views expressed in Clinician's Corner blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Psychological Health Center of Excellence or Department of Defense.