In this Issue: Suicide Prevention
Overview of HSR&D Suicide Research
HSR&D has funded several national projects devoted to understanding and preventing suicide. While VA works to reach Veterans who need mental healthcare (more than 1.6 million Veterans received specialized mental healthcare in FY2015)3, HSR&D continues to support research on suicide, including studies of risk factors, screening, and prevention. Several of HSR&D's Centers of Innovation have a particular interest in mental health and suicide. HSR&D's Center for Mental Healthcare and Outcomes Research (CeMHOR) focuses on improving access and engagement in mental and specialty mental healthcare for Veterans. Investigators at CeMHOR are leading one of the largest national studies involving REACH-VET (Recovery, Engagement and Coordination for Health Veterans Enhanced Treatment) , which combines a state-of-the-art suicide risk prediction model with a care coordination implementation program designed for Veterans at the highest risk of suicide. In collaboration with HSR&D/QUERI's Partnered Evidence-based Policy Resource Center (PEPReC), this newly funded study will determine best practices in facilitating implementation of REACH-VET nationally, informing more effective efforts to deliver suicide prevention resources to high-risk Veterans across the VA healthcare system. [A new VA video on suicide, available on the VA intranet at http://vaww.ush.va.gov/index.asp, that features Dr. Poonam Alaigh, Acting Under Secretary for Health, highlights REACH-VET.]
Suicide prevention also is a main area of research for HSR&D's Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care (CIVIC). Areas of particular focus include the psychosocial and healthcare experiences of Veterans who died by suicide. For example, CIVIC investigators are examining how social support and relationships with peers, family, and others can provide a buffer against mental illness and suicide. Working with the Department of Defense, CIVIC investigators also developed and implemented a smartphone app called the Virtual Hope Box (VHB), which serves as a reminder of positive life experiences and reasons for living, and has been downloaded more than 200,000 times since 2014. The VHB app is available for free via the Apple App Store and Google Play.
In addition, HSRD has funded several CREATE (Collaborative Research to Enhance and Advance Transformation and Excellence) programs–consisting of 3-5 collaborative projects developed with clinical partners–that address issues important to suicide. The primary goal of Evidence-Based Therapies for PTSD CREATE is to improve Veterans' access to and engagement in evidence-based treatments for PTSD–a risk factor for suicide. The Improving Rural Veterans' Access/Engagement in Evidence-based Mental Healthcare CREATE aims to improve treatment engagement for Veterans living in rural settings who access mental health services at VA community-based outpatient clinics.
For more information, visit HSR&D's suicide research overview page.