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VA Suicide Prevention Panel Completes Draft Report
Date:9/9/2008

Group Lauds VA's Comprehensive Strategy

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A blue-ribbon panel has praised the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for its "comprehensive strategy" in suicide prevention that includes a "number of initiatives and innovations that hold great promise for preventing suicide attempts and completions."

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080909/DC32519 )

Among the initiatives and innovations the group studied was VA's Suicide Prevention Lifeline -- 1-800-273-TALK. The lifeline is staffed by trained professionals 24 hours a day to deal with any immediate crisis that may be taking place. Nearly 33,000 veterans, family members or friends of veterans have called the lifeline in the year that it has been operating. Of those, there have been more than 1,600 rescues to prevent possible tragedy.

Other initiatives noted included the hiring of suicide prevention coordinators at each of VA's 153 medical facilities, the establishment of a Mental Health Center of Excellence in Canandaigua, N.Y., focusing on developing and testing clinical and public health intervention standards for suicide prevention, the creation of an additional research center on suicide prevention in Denver, which focuses on research in the clinical and neurobiological conditions that can lead to increased suicide risk, and a plus-up in staff making more than 400 mental health professionals entirely dedicated to suicide prevention.

With the praise, the panel also recommended a mixture of more research, greater cooperation among federal agencies, and more education for health care workers and community leaders to further strengthen and share VA's ability to help veterans and their families.

"Every human life is precious, none more than the men and women who serve this nation in the military," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs D
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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