Disrupting Veteran Suicide
June 29, 2020
Outside New York State
Suicide is a growing public health epidemic, resulting in a staggering number of lives lost each year.
Although New York State has one of the lowest suicide rates in the country, its veterans die by suicide at almost double the rate of their civilian counterparts—accounting for 1 in 7 suicides across the State. In the months leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, Stop Soldier Suicide saw a 46% increase in requests for help from New York City veterans. The COVID-19 pandemic will likely exacerbate underlying behavioral health issues and the risk of veteran suicide. In 2020, NYSHealth awarded Stop Soldier Suicide a grant to expand its evidence-based suicide prevention program to identify veterans at high risk in New York City, intervene, and provide them with resources and care plans.
Under this grant, Stop Soldier Suicide developed a campaign to expand its Disrupt Veteran Suicide intervention and outreach program to the entire New York City region. It proactively identified veterans at high risk for suicide online and through social media, and then targeted those veterans for services. Veterans were then connected virtually to a mental health coordinator, who conducted a comprehensive risk assessment and created an individual care plan. Veterans were also connected to supportive services based on their needs, including food assistance, employment services, short-term financial support, and legal representation. All veterans received follow-up services until they were at lower risk and were receiving social supports. Stop Soldier Suicide also evaluated the program to identify gaps in services, elevate best-in-class service providers, and develop plans for statewide expansion.