The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has successfully launched its inaugural Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families. Eight cities – Albuquerque, NM; Billings, MT; Helena, MT; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Phoenix, AZ; and Richmond, VA – participated in a Policy Academy held in Washington, DC on March 14-16, 2018. With technical assistance provided by the VA, SAMHSA, and SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance Center, the city teams are developing strategic action plans to reduce suicides using a comprehensive public health approach. With commitment to action steps like “implement asking the question ‘Have you ever served’” and “develop consistent suicide prevention media messaging,” these 8 cities are spearheading the way for an additional 20 communities across the nation to join in the challenge.
There is an urgent need for increased suicide prevention supports for service members, veterans, and their families at the community level. Building on the momentum of the first 8 city teams, 20 communities will receive technical assistance to form local interagency teams made up of both community and military stakeholders. Each team will be guided through an environmental scan and facilitated action planning during a 2-day site visit. Through the process of identifying gaps in services and opportunities for increased supports, Mayor’s Challenge communities will walk away with key action steps that will strengthen their suicide prevention efforts for service members, veterans, and their families. Ongoing technical assistance will be provided by SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance Center.
SAMHSA and VA are committed to helping communities strengthen their supports and sustain their efforts. Twenty veterans die by suicide each day. This is an unacceptable number. The Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families brings federal, state, and local stakeholders together to meet this challenge head on.
Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide – and those who know a veteran in crisis – can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat
, or text to 838255.