20% of the nation’s suicide deaths are veterans. AFSP is dedicated to working to stop this trend.
Research on Military and Veterans
In 2013, AFSP awarded a grant to Dr. Amy Cameron for “Exploring Shame as a Mechanism for Co-Occurring Substance Use and Suicide in Veteran Populations.”
In 2013, AFSP awarded a grant to Dr. William McCall for “Reducing Suicidal Ideation Through Treatment of Nightmares-PTSD,” which will include veterans.
In 2012, an AFSP Young Investigator Grant went to Dr. Jaimie L. Gradus for “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Suicide among Massachusetts Veterans.”
In 2009, an AFSP Research Grant went to Dr. Rachel Yehuda for “Genetic and Clinical Predictors of Suicidal Behavior in Veterans Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
In 2008, an AFSP Distinguished Investigator Grant went to Dr. Mark Kaplan for “Suicide among Military Veterans: Analysis of the National Violent Death Reporting System.”
In 2004, an AFSP Research Grant went to Dr. Eileen Ahearn for “Efficacy of Atypical Antipsychotics in Suicide Prevention in Bipolar Disorder,” which found that medications for Bipolar Disorder reduce suicide attempt rates in veterans.
AFSP has taken a leadership role in advocating for policies to prevent suicide among military personnel, veterans, and their families. Maintaining military personnel and veteran suicide prevention as a national priority is one of AFSP public policy priorities.
In 2014 alone AFSP:
- Submitted a statement to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC) during a hearing titled, “Service Should Not Lead to Suicide: Access to VA’s Mental Health Care.” Our statement detailed the dangers that delayed appointments for veterans seeking mental health treatment pose to those veterans at risk for suicide.
- Worked with Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Jon Runyan (R-NJ) to provide $80 million in FY 13-14 for VA and DOD suicide prevention education and outreach programs.
- Advocated for comprehensive suicide prevention legislation for the veterans community, the Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act, which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Joe Walsh.
- Advocated for the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act which was introduced by Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Roger Wicker (R-MS). Bill text was included in the FY 15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and would require an annual mental health assessments for all service members—Active, Reserve, and Guard.
- Worked with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL), the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee chairmen, to reach an agreement to reform the VA and address the short- and long-term needs of veterans seeking health care, including mental health care.
- AFSP advocates were also instrumental in the passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.
In March 2016, AFSP’s Greater San Francisco Bay Area Chapter hosted Counseling Veterans at Risk for Suicide, in partnership with the San Francisco VA Health Care System.
In June 2016, AFSP hosted a panel during their annual Advocacy Forum regarding “Service Member and Veteran Suicide Prevention”
AFSP Loss and Healing
AFSP’s International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day film, The Journey, includes veteran and TAPS staff member Paul McShan, who lost his son Richard, a Marine, to suicide.
AFSP Out of the Darkness Walks
AFSP honors the loss of military and veterans to suicide at our Out of the Darkness Overnight and Community Walks with the silver honor beads.
AFSP has formed partnerships with military advocacy and support groups including Give an Hour, Veterans Crisis Line, Tragedy Assistance Project for Survivors (TAPS) and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
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