On November 2, the Biden administration released a report outlining its plan to prevent military and veteran suicide. Since 2010, more than 65,000 veterans have died by suicide, and on average, 17 veterans end their lives every day in the United States. To respond to this public health crisis, the White House plan outlines five specific priority goals for reducing veteran and military suicide:
- Improve Lethal Means Safety: Federal agencies will focus on a coordinated approach for reducing access to lethal means (including firearms and medications) and increasing safe storage practices.
- Enhance Crisis Care and Facilitate Transitions: Key agencies will work to increase access to effective emergent suicide crisis services (including implementation of the new National Hotline for mental health emergencies) along with better follow-up care.
- Increase Access to and Delivery of Effective Care: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with other federal agencies, will evaluate access and engagement barriers to evidence-based mental health care and produce a report within one year.
- Address Upstream Risk and Protective Factors: Agencies will work to strengthen partnerships, including with local governments, that address economic opportunity, mobility, and stability, all of which are important means to reduce risk factors.
- Increase Research Coordination, Data Sharing, and Evaluation Efforts: Agencies will work collaboratively toward improved suicide surveillance, research, and program evaluation.
Counties play a critical role in ensuring that veterans i n our communities access the care and services they need. NACo applauds the White House for its focus on this issue and looks forward to continuing to work with our federal partners to implement bipartisan solutions to the veteran suicide crisis.
The Veterans Crisis Line can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1, or by texting 838-255 or engaging via the Crisis Line's website.
- Fact Sheet: New Strategy Outlines Five Priorities for Reducing Military and Veteran Suicide
- New White House suicide prevention plan for troops, vets emphasizes gun safety
- Veteran Suicide Prevention: Strategies for County Leaders