NYS Governors Challenge Reducing Veteran Suicide

A workgroup of mental health professionals across New York State have come together over a shared interest in learning about ways that family members can best help their veteran remain safe and minimize access to things that veterans might use to harm themselves when feeling overwhelmed.

As part of the NYS Governors Challenge to prevent suicide among service members, veterans, and their families (SMVF), they are developing several strategies to promote family involvement in reducing access to lethal means, and are seeking individuals who might be interested in participating in a one on one interview to better understand what families need to know, and how best to support families in taking the necessary actions to make their family environment safer.

They aim to develop two projects seeking the opinions and perspectives of three groups of family members:

1) Family member of a veteran with firearms in the home,
2) Family member of a veteran with a past suicide attempt using a firearm,
3) Family member of a veteran who died by suicide.

The first project is the development of a training module delivered directly to family members that teaches critical information about lethal means safety, focusing on gun safety and medication management. For this project, they need feedback from you regarding past experiences with your veteran's times of crisis and lessons learned from how best to minimize risk. They also want to seek your preferences about how best to deliver and present this information in an engaging and helpful manner to family members.

The second project aims to develop a brief intervention to support families and loved ones begin the discussion and action planning around lethal means safety. Here they want to hear from family members and veterans which formats they favor and how best to facilitate the negotiation around taking action to better manage suicide risk with safer storage of medications and firearms.

They will also be interviewing veterans with involved family to understand their perspective on how best to speak to veterans about lethal means safety. They recognize family discussions to make the home safer are a two-way street and want to ensure they include all viewpoints in their products.

If you know someone you believe might be interested in supporting this work, contact Marianne Goodman, MD, at [email protected] or 646-245-7071. They plan to conduct these interviews from January-February, 2021.