Editor’s note: this post was updated Sept. 1, 2020.

Suicide is one of the most challenging societal issues of our time, and sadly, one that affects those who served our Nation at alarming rates. For Veterans, the suicide rate is 1.5 times higher and the female Veteran suicide rate is 2.2 times higher than the general population.

There is good news: suicide is preventable and working together, we can create change and save lives.

On March 5, 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order 13861 establishing a three-year effort known as the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). Under the leadership of The White House and VA, the PREVENTS Office and cabinet-level, interagency task force were created to amplify and accelerate our progress in addressing suicide.  The roadmap was released on June 17, 2020.

In July, PREVENTS launched a centerpiece of the initiative: the Nation’s first public health campaign focused on suicide prevention, REACH. This campaign is for and about everyone because we all have risk and protective factors for suicide that we need to recognize and understand.  REACH provides the knowledge, tools, and resources that we need to prevent suicide by educating ourselves so that we can REACH when we are in need – so that we can REACH  to those who feel hopeless. REACH empowers us to reach beyond what we have done before to change the way we think about, talk about, and address emotional pain and suffering.

As a member of the VA community, you are in a position to REACH out to Veterans who may be at risk during this difficult  time. We all need support – sometimes we need more.

How can you get involved?

Take the PREVENTS Pledge to REACH: Make a commitment to increase awareness of mental health challenges  as we work to  prevent suicide for all Americans. Visit wearewithinreach.net to sign the pledge and challenge your friends and colleagues to do the same. PREVENTS is planning a month-long pledge drive during September, Suicide Prevention Month. Please join us!REACH logo

Veterans can also help lead the way as we work to change the way we think about, talk about and address  mental health and suicide. Veterans can give us their perspective and provide guidance as we reach out to those in need. To that end, the PREVENTS Office is launching a first-of-its kind, national survey on Sept. 2, 2020, that will give us invaluable feedback from Veterans. The survey will help us learn what are our Veterans’ most pressing needs. In addition, the answers we receive will help us understand how Veterans want to receive important information on mental health services and suicide prevention.

Please help us by taking the survey at PREVENTS Survey and encourage every Veteran you know to take it. Filling out the survey takes less than 5 minutes!  The PREVENTS survey will be available from Sept. 2-30.

Story courtesy PREVENTS office.

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Published on Aug. 30, 2020

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  1. Roland Van Deusen September 14, 2020 at 9:35 am

    The wider we share all the tools with each other, the better odds we have of preventing a vet’s suicide. 60,000 such deaths in the last decade. 59% of post-9/11 vets know another vet who killed themselves, further trauma for that surviving veteran. Next month we start our 20th year of war, almost everyone knowing someone who knows a troubled vet.

  2. Charles Robert Hicks August 30, 2020 at 11:29 am

    This sounds like an amazing effort. I applauded the President and the VA Reach administration for initiating Prevents. I would be glad to participate in this process as it begins. Thank you for all the tireless work that has brought this together.

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