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

r. James B. Peake. "The report of this blue-ribbon panel, and other efforts underway, will ensure VA mobilizes its full resources to care for our most vulnerable veterans."

Called the "Blue Ribbon Work Group on Suicide Prevention," the five-member group was composed of suicide prevention experts from VA, the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The group was created by Peake and met June 11-13, 2008.

Among the panel's recommendations to further enhance VA's outstanding programs, many of which VA has already begun to implement, are:

-- Design a study that will identify suicide risk among veterans of different conflicts, ages, genders, military branches and other factors. VA has committed to work with other federal agencies to design such a study within 30 days.

-- Improve VA's screening for suicide among veterans with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). VA is in the process of designing a new screening protocol, with pilot test undertaken during the fiscal year quarter beginning Oct. 1, 2008.

-- Ensure that evidence-based research is used to determine the appropriateness of medications for depression, PTSD and suicidal behavior. VA's is providing written warnings to patients about side effects, and the Department's suicide prevention coordinators are contacting health care providers to advise them of the latest evidence-based research on medications.

-- Devise a policy for protecting the confidential records of VA patients who may also be treated by the military's health care system. VA is already developing a plan to clarify the privacy rights of patients who come to VA while serving in the military.

-- Increase research about suicide prevention. VA has announced several funding opportunities this year for research on suicide prevention and is developing priorities for
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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