Military Veteran Suicide takes center stage at the National Department of Defense (DoD) Suicide Prevention Conference

In late August, our Executive Director traveled to Nashville to participate in the biennial National DoD Suicide Prevention Conference. Leaders from the military government, corporate, and non-profit sectors were in attendance to share ideas on how best to improve skills and capabilities in the areas of prevention, intervention, and postvention. Presentations by various subject matter experts and leaders such as the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs and the Undersecretary for the Department of Defense Personnel division showed the commitment the government is making to this issue. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with old colleagues and make connections with new ones.

National statistics show veteran suicide at a rate of twenty (20) per day. This is down slightly from a few years ago when the rate was twenty-two (22) per day. Although the trend shows a slight improvement it is far from where it needs to be. Statistics show six (6) of these service members were under VA care, with fourteen (14) being committed by those service members out in the community. This means that these people are losing their lives where we live and not on the battlefield.

NPSS has always had a focus on supporting our military and suicide. Working with military personnel to provide support and resources has and continues to be a significant part of our efforts at NPSS. To broaden our reach of support we offer training for others in these areas from the co-creation of our (one- and two-day versions) From Battlefield to Streets: One Uniform to Another program, to one (1) and two (2) day programs on Suicide Awareness and Suicide Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention. These programs are designed to give real-world insights and skills into how to support our veteran population. Please see our military initiatives and training website pages, or contact us to learn more about these programs and to schedule one in your area.

If you, or if you know of a veteran suffering and possibly contemplating suicide, please don’t keep it a secret – get help. Our service members often find themselves in challenging physical and psychological situations in service to our country and survive those potentially life-threatening events, only to come home and lose their life by their own means. Our veterans have been there for us and our country – be there for them.