Suicide, a major public health concern that affects everyone, takes the lives of an estimated 45,000 Americans–including 6,000 Veterans–each year. To combat Veteran suicide, President Donald J. Trump recently signed an executive order (EO) titled “National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Suicide” (PREVENTS), directing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council to co-chair and create an interagency task force to develop a plan implementing a road map for the prevention of Veteran suicide at the national and community level.
As a result, the task force is releasing a Request for Information (RFI) to gather feedback on how to improve research and the use of research to radically reduce Veteran suicide. Through this RFI, and to ensure the broadest stakeholder input in the development of the national research strategy, VA is seeking input on ways to increase knowledge about factors influencing suicidal behaviors and ways to prevent suicide; inform the development of a robust and forward-looking research agenda; coordinate relevant research efforts across the Nation; and measure progress on these efforts. The public input provided in response to this RFI will inform the Veteran wellness, empowerment and suicide prevention task force, who will develop and implement the national research strategy.
“Veteran suicide requires an all-hands on-deck approach to preserve the lives of our Veterans who have served our country,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
“This is a call to action. In order to decrease the rate of Veteran suicide, we need to engage our local and community partners in addition to leveraging the resources of the departments.”
To advance the president’s vision, the Office of Science and Technology, Executive Office of the President and VA will lead the development of the national research strategy to improve coordination, monitoring, benchmarking and execution of public- and private-sector research related to the factors that contribute to Veteran suicide.
All public comments regarding the RFI are welcome and should be submitted by August 5, 2019, to ensure they are considered in the national research strategy. Responses may be submitted online at https://www.research.va.gov/PREVENTS/.
A former U.S. Army National Guardsman with more than 14 years of government service, Tatjana Christian is a public affairs officer in VA’s Office of Media Relations, aligned under the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.