October 19, 2020
This weekend, the President signed Senate Bill 785. Much of this Bill focuses on VA. However, of the 100,000+ veterans who died by suicide since 9/11, nearly 70% of them were outside of VHA care.
Section 201, which provides grants up to $750K to nonprofits providing veteran suicide prevention services, puts resources against that 70%. However, “suicide prevention services” are so broadly defined that they can include almost any service, no matter how fringe or unsubstantiated.
These funds could be gobbled up by agencies whose programs have no proven effect on preventing suicide. To have a measurable impact, this funding must be used to support proven services.
Upstream services help, but the efficacy of suicide prevention measures can’t be demonstrated simply by the number of veterans a nonprofit served. The data that matters is how many acutely suicidal veterans they saved.
Suicidologists must spearhead any effort; otherwise, those responsible for saving veteran lives are just guessing and hoping. Guessing wastes precious time and resources. Hope without accountability costs lives.
At Stop Soldier Suicide, we have the experts and the data to prove we’re saving lives. Our sole focus is suicide intervention for veterans for whom suicide prevention efforts failed. We hold ourselves and the industry to a higher standard than just hoping something we do works.