We’ve heard it. We’ve said it. We’ve shared it on our social media, and we’ve done the 22 days of 22 pushups. None of this will ever be sufficient in the war on veteran suicide. As a matter of fact, 22 a day is merely a number that bares little truth when you consider “accidental” overdoses and vehicular accidents. The sad truth is that this number is low. Prevention starts with availability and a helpful behavioral health specialist.

As you may be aware; veteran crisis calls have more than doubled since the beginning of the covid era, and veterans 18-34 are currently dying by suicide at a rate of 1.65% higher than any other veteran demographic.

The latest VA statistics show that veterans have a 52.3% chance of dying by suicide compared to non-veterans. Pew Charitable Trusts just completed a study of thirty-seven call centers across twenty-seven states, and their findings are as such: The response rate is 16%. More than half of the responders do not report or properly annotate the calls. There is no guarantee that the responder has crisis intervention training, or an ability to identify and assist in crisis care. There is no national standard for reporting crisis and managing it once the responder takes the call.

This article lit a fire under our squad. It is concerning to the team at Resurrecting Lives Foundation (RLF), as the founder, Doctor Chrisanne Gordon has personally gained a 200% increase in crisis calls from veterans who have found her phone number on the internet, after failing to find appropriate assistance in their state. RLF was granted a small amount of money to assist in fixing this crisis issue, and we will need legislative help to create an appropriate national standard.

We’ve written a proposal to a long list of lawmakers from over eleven different states, specifically the states with the highest veteran populations.  Our request is to put into place this national standard, and to no longer allow the unacceptable status quo of leaving our veterans on hold.  We can share suicide prevention posts socially until our thumbs fall off, but it’s going to take a true call to action. It’s time to get into the trenches and get our call centers hands on, not hands free.

By: Andrew Young, Director of Suicide Prevention at RLF

gif by Chief Joe Pisano, artist and creator of the Operation Zero
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