New Predictive Analysis Program Combats Veteran Suicide

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2018

With suicide in the headlines, we are reminded that mental health issues and suicide can impact Americans of any background, lifestyle or social status. Studies continue to suggest, however, that male veterans are twice as likely as their civilian counterparts to die by suicide. Additionally, female veterans have a rate between two and five times higher than civilian women, with the number growing over the past decade.New Predictive Analysis Program Combats Veteran Suicide

As the VA continues its all-out war on veteran suicide, a new, data-driven approach seems to be making headway. Organizers are calling the new predictive analysis program, which looks for at-risk veterans based on certain predictive characteristics, a “game changer.”

Predictive Analysis Program Combats Veteran Suicide

The program, called “REACH VET” –  short for “Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health: Veterans Enhanced Treatment” – uses information from veterans' health records to identify those who are at a higher risk for hospitalization, illness, suicide or other negative outcomes. Once a veteran is identified as a higher risk, his or her VA mental health or primary care provider proactively and regularly reaches out to check on the veteran's well-being and reviews their treatment plan to determine if enhanced care is needed.

While the VA currently promotes several tools and emergency resources for veterans in crisis, the REACH VET program is aimed at helping veterans earlier in the process, before they reach that point. Efforts focus especially on those during their first year of separation, where DoD statistics suggest an usually high concentration of veteran suicide.

Organizers explain that while they are aware that the proactive calls and letters to check on veterans may be a bit annoying or frustrating to the veterans at time, one never knows when a veteran might be open to, or in need of, the help.

According to VA officials, the initial results from the program’s roll out over the last year have been promising. Recently a veteran reached a point of crisis, remembered the REACH Vet letter and picked up the phone and called the VA for help. Having the resources available at an unexpected moment may mean the difference between life and death.

Since its launch in 2017, the REACH VET program has reached an estimated 30,000 veterans and has established a REACH VET coordinator in each VA facility who helps identify providers within the medical center to utilize the program. Additionally, the VA has dedicated six full-time psychologists as well as social workers and other clinicians who only support REACH VET, answering questions from clinicians using the program around the country.

Moving forward, the VA is working to refine its predictive analysis model and is also planning a joint collaboration with the Energy Department to leverage its IT capabilities. Health care providers, legislators and researchers are continuing to evolve the REACH VET program in hopes that this cutting-edge program will save lives by connecting at-risk veterans with the specialized care and support they need before they reach a crisis point.

The VA’s additional suicide prevention resources provide confidential support from specially trained and experienced responders to veterans, even if they are not enrolled in VA health care. Every day, 24-hours a day, veterans and their families and friends may:

Written by Megan Hammons

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