MSRC News Details

4th Annual DoD/VA Suicide Prevention Conference, 2012

The fourth annual Suicide Prevention Conference, jointly hosted this year by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), will focus on basic skills in suicide prevention training. Scheduled for June 20–22, 2012 in Washington, D.C., the conference will bring together top minds in suicide prevention, military health and family advocacy, to discuss ways to enhance the quality of life for service members, veterans and their families.

“The conference will describe the current state of prevention approaches across the Defense Department and VA,” said Cmdr. Wanda Finch, DCoE family and community program manager in the resilience and prevention directorate. “Attendees will learn strategies for increasing attention to suicide prevention resources and offer vital information for caregivers and families.”

Conference leader Janet E. Kemp is among the MSRC Members represented at the conference. MSRC researchers will be presenting a series of sessions, including the "Status of DoD Funded Suicide Research" on day 1 of the conference. Download the full conference agenda here.

Attendees include Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson, and notable leaders across the services and military health care system. Participants at this year’s conference will discuss a wide-range of topics including peer interaction, advances in clinical care and psychological health programs, and the critical role leadership plays in preventing suicide.

“Three conference tracks — clinical, research and practical application — will reinforce skills to reduce the impact of suicide,” said Finch. “We’ll emphasize leadership engagement at all levels and in multiple settings by promoting help-seeking behavior. And we’ll encourage stakeholders to share information on available suicide prevention resources and programs,” she said.

Unique presentations include using mobile applications and interactive text messaging to reduce suicidal ideation, lessons learned from survivors, and a panel discussion with chaplains, as they are often the first resource service members access when reaching out.

The conference marks the progress of a cohesive military and civilian force working together to prevent suicide and advance the psychological well-being of our service members, veterans and families.

“This is a unique experience to bridge the continuum of care,” said Finch. “It will bring together diverse stakeholders and showcase multiple ways to promote help-seeking behavior. Recovery can happen and suicide is preventable. In this way, we are furthering a message of hope by focusing on practical tools and solutions, the latest evidence from research, and collaborative efforts with the VA and other federal partners.”

Original Article