Governor Whitmer Invests in Veteran Suicide Prevention | News, Sports, Jobs

Editor’s note: [This is the first installment of a series on suicide as a national public health problem, including among service veterans, and how at-risk veterans can find the help they need to return to happy, healthy lives.]

Suicide is a serious national public health problem affecting communities around the world. The US Department of Veterans Affairs agrees with this statement. The VA’s website says preventing suicide among all veterans is a top priority – “including among those who do not and may never seek care within our system. We strive to reach veterans where they live, work and thrive.

In Lansing, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) and the governor’s office share this priority.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday announced a $1.2 million investment in suicide prevention programs for veterans, improving the health and well-being of more than 550,000 Michigan veterans and their families. . This represents the largest investment in veteran suicide prevention awareness since at least the year 2000 and likely the largest in Michigan’s history based on available data. The investment was announced on Wednesday. following a roundtable with veterans and veterans advocates attended by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II and MVAA Director Zaneta Adams.

Whitmer said in a Wednesday. statement that suicide remains a persistent problem in Michigan, as well as nationally, and all available resources and tools must be used to protect the life of the former Michigan service member.

“Today’s investment will increase funding for suicide prevention efforts in Michigan,” said Whitmer, “and build on the continued efforts of the Michigan Veterans Agency to ensure the safety and health of veterans and their families.”

Gilchrist said the funding is a step forward in the state’s efforts to end suicides among Michigan veterans and that every veteran and their family can find opportunities, access health care and get better. flourish.

Gilchrist said he and Governor Whitmer are grateful for the MVAA’s partnership in funding this holistic approach to connecting veterans to resources and we are committed to continuing to stand up for Michigan veterans.

The statement from the governor’s office said that according to the latest available data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 704 Michigan veterans died by suicide from 2016 to 2019, an average of 176 suicides per year over four years.

One of the ways the MVAA and the Governor’s Challenge are addressing veteran suicide is by emphasizing safe gun storage and free gun locks through the VA, the statement said. Nearly 70% of veteran suicides are the result of gunshot wounds. Additionally, the Suicide Prevention Team promotes the AV’s new easy-to-remember Crisis Line number; veterans can now simply dial 988 and press 1 to be connected with a crisis counsellor.

The Military Times of September 17, 2022 published an article suggesting that some statistics may not be accurate. The article, written by Leo Shane III is titled, Veteran Suicide Rate Could Be Double Federal Estimates, Study Finds.

The joint study, led by officials from America’s Warrior Partnership with the University of Alabama and Duke University, looked at census death data from 2014 to 2018 for eight states and found thousands of cases of suspected or confirmed suicides not included in federal calculations, the article said. According to the article, the suicide rate among veterans could be more than double federal reports per year, due to undercounting of drug-related overdose deaths and errors in service records.

The article noted that Jim Lorraine, president of the AWP and Air Force veteran who works in health care, reported that the largest category of overlooked deaths – about 60% of uncounted cases, according to the report estimate – relates to drug overdoses. Lorraine said that in the states examined by her researchers, many drug-related deaths were classified as accidents or intent unknown, even though it seemed like the deaths should be grouped with suicides.

A May 23, 2022 report published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website stated that despite public attention over the past decades, SUDs, including alcohol consumption, remain a problem among veterans and the military. In these populations, alcohol consumption is common and is often used for stress relief and socializing. The report states that a study of military personnel found that about 30% of completed suicides and about 20% of deaths from high-risk behaviors were attributable to alcohol or drug use. In the general US population, alcohol is the fourth leading cause of preventable death, and 31% of driving-related deaths involve alcohol poisoning.

“These are all preventable deaths, Lorraine is quoted as saying. “The number is less important than the methodology to track them and ensure we have an accurate count… which can lead us to preventative action.”

If you are a Veteran with suicidal thoughts or know of one who does, contact the Veteran Crisis Line 24/7/365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at or text 838255.

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