News Details

Defense Department Conducting Review of Suicide Prevention Efforts

Dana Crudo

Source: Military Health System
Published: Tuesday 24 September, 2013

The Defense Department has more than 900 different suicide prevention initiatives. Officials have been working to identify which ones reflect the federal government’s new national strategy for reducing suicide.

The Defense Suicide Prevention Office started its review last fall, and an interim report of their findings is expected to be shared with key military leaders in October.

“What we have been doing is looking at efficiency and effectiveness,” said Jacqueline Garrick, head of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office. “We have started to look at costs associated with these programs and then looking to measure whether or not they are effective.”

As part of the review process, the Defense Suicide Prevention Office developed an automated management tool to track the efficiency, effectiveness, requirements and costs associated with the more than 900 suicide prevention programs.

“We are able to see where the gaps and overlaps are,” Garrick said. “It helps to really see the big picture, so we can start making decisions.”

These decisions include potentially eliminating duplicative or ineffective efforts and funding new evidence-based suicide prevention programs.

The interim report will include a breakdown of the suicide prevention initiatives, dividing them into three categories: those that are entirely focused on suicide prevention, those that have a suicide prevention component to them and those that mitigate risk factors associated with suicide like resiliency programs, financial planning programs and employment programs.

The Defense Suicide Prevention Office used the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention to help organize the programs into categories and also see how they stacked up against the national strategy.

“We have mapped out what programs exist, so we could see what we are doing and how well our efforts are informed by the strategic approach,” Garrick said.

The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention details 16 goals and 60 objectives aimed at reducing suicide over the next 10 years. It calls on the involvement of people in public health, mental health, health care, the Armed Forces, business, entertainment, media, and education.

Although it is too early to identify the most effective programs, Garrick said they have been able to identify some best practices. These include targeting suicide prevention training to specific audiences and using public health education campaigns to raise awareness.

According to Garrick, major efforts within the service branches have focused on encouraging service members to seek help if they are struggling and teaching them how to take action when someone is contemplating suicide.

“These two strategies are really helpful,” she said.

Garrick reiterated the importance of service members knowing about all the resources available to them and to feel comfortable asking for help.

If you are experiencing a crisis, do not hesitate to call the Military Crisis Line at 1 (800) 273-8255, press 1.

Original Article