North Carolina’s three priority areas are based on the Veterans Administration National Suicide Prevention Strategy. They are: identify SMVF and screen for suicide risk, promote connectedness and improve care transitions and educate the public about limiting access to lethal means and improve safety planning.

Challenge Accepted

We plan to address the issue head-on in North Carolina working with the cities and counties in the state to implement evidence-based practices on the local level reaching deep into the places that Veterans, service members and their families live, work, and play. 

What we know about suicide in the U.S.

Someone dies from suicide every 12 minutes—and over the past two decades, suicide rates have increased in every state across the country. For the first time in recent generations, life expectancy is decreasing due to suicide.
According to the latest research:

There were 1.4 million attempts and more than 47,000 deaths from suicide.

Rural counties are being hit the hardest with suicide rates double the rate in urban counties.

Suicide is at its
highest level
and is still rising.

There has been an alarming 50% increase of suicide rates among women.

Each person who dies by suicide leaves behind 135 people who knew that person —
and the impact of suicide and the bereavement that follow.

The Governor’s Challenge is partnering with PsychArmor to offer free online courses on content related to Veterans and suicide prevention. These courses include the following three courses although PsychArmor offers many more courses related to the military-connected community. You can access the courses here.

  • Sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project, 15 Things Veterans Want You to Know is based on interviews with thousands of Veterans. They were asked what one question would they want civilians and care providers to ask. This course is based on those interviews. Presented by Heidi Squier Kraft, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at PsychArmor and a Navy Veteran, this 16-minute course provides an overview of military culture and addresses relevant issues facing our Veterans and their families today.
  • S.A.V.E. is an acronym for Signs, Ask, Validate, and Encourage/Expedite and is a brief suicide prevention intervention. Sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project, Megan McCarthy, Ph.D., walks users through the steps in this 25-minute video. At the time of the video, she was the National Deputy Director, Suicide Prevention, US Department of Veterans Affairs but currently, she is serving as Vice President, Project 2025, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
  • Funded by the National Football League Foundation, Kelly Posner, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and Lead Scientist of the Columbia Lighthouse Project, tells users about the importance of actively preventing military members and Veterans from dying by suicide in this 13-minute video, Columbia Scale for Communities. She provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale or C-SSRS.

Community Partners




US Department of Veterans Affairs

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

Governor’s Institute

North Carolina National Guard

United States Army Reserve



Goodwill – Northwest North Carolina

VA Mid-atlantic Healthcare Network – VISN 6

Alliance Behavioral Healthcare

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions

The University of North Carolina System

Duke Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences – Duke University School of Medicine

Vaya Health

Veterans Services of the Carolinas

Veterans Coalition Crystal Coast

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – North Carolina Chapter

The Stephen A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Cape Fear Valley

Veterans Bridge Home

Stop Solider Suicide


  • The NC Toolkit was developed to improve service delivery and intake data accuracy for Service Members, Veterans, and Families (SMVF) in community healthcare and provider settings. Its intent is to facilitate the engagement of SMVF throughout the State. Included in its contents is the Ask the Question campaign, which is a strategy for identifying SMVF. In addition, the toolkit provides culturally competent military information and education about specific needs and conditions, which may affect SMVF.
  • US Department of Veterans Affairs – Suicide is the number one clinical priority for the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This webpage is directed toward Veterans and significant others in the Veteran’s life. It provides tips on who to contact for immediate and ongoing support; signs that indicate that someone may be considering self-harm; and related health problems such as military sexual trauma, substance use problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.
  • The VA has divided the country into Veterans Integrated Service Networks or VISNs. Each VISN has a Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC); each MIRECC has its own mental health focus. The mission of the Rocky Mountain MIRECC 19 for Veteran Suicide Prevention is to study suicide with the goal of reducing suicidal ideation and behaviors in the Veteran population. Towards this end, the work of the Rocky Mountain MIRECC is focused on promising clinical interventions, as well as the cognitive and neurobiological underpinnings of suicidal thoughts and behaviors that may lead to innovative prevention strategies.

    One of the MIRECC’s resources includes a highly recommended three-part video series on upstream suicide prevention: (1) human flourishing, (2) stress and resilience, and (3) demographic considerations. Each video is about an hour in length.
  • VISN 2 hosts the Center for Excellence for Suicide Prevention (CoE); its mission is to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with Veteran suicide and self-directed violence. It uses a comprehensive public health approach in its research and education.
  • Funded by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Suicide Prevention Resource Center provides free resources, programs, and trainings to users. It also provides technical assistance and support to other SAMHSA grantees–Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention grantees, National Strategy for Suicide Prevention grantees, and Zero Suicide grantees–which address suicide prevention.
  • Violence and Suicide Prevention Center, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosts a website that has factsheets for suicide prevention; tips for parents, kids and teens, and school personnel; a downloadable document that identifies strategies to assist communities to prevent suicide; and other resources.
  • The VISN 2 COE and the VISN 19 MIRECC have partnered to host a webpage on Uniting for Suicide Postvention. It provides support for individuals who have experienced loss through suicide– community members, providers, and employers and employees.
  • The Division of Public Health, NC Department of Health and Human Services uses Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant funding to administer the Healthy Communities Program. The aim of this program is to reduce the burden of chronic disease and injury in North Carolina. In January 2020, the Division issued strategies associated with this program. Strategy #2 addresses suicide prevention, which can be downloaded here: Healthy Communities Strategy #2: Suicide Prevention, Division of Public Health, NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • The Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, Division of Public Health, NC DHHS has general information about suicide prevention as well as North Carolina statistics related to suicides. The most recent statistics on Veteran suicides in the State can be downloaded here. In addition, county resources can be identified here.
  • The US Department of Veterans Affairs and the US Department of Defense have been preparing clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) for healthcare providers on a number of chronic health, mental health, and military-connected health issues for some time. These CPGs are based on the best evidence that is available at the time of publication. The content is reviewed periodically and updated. In 2019, the VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) for the Assessment and Management of Patients at Risk for Suicide was issued.
  • Under the auspices of Columbia University, the Columbia Lighthouse Project was established “to light the way to ending suicide”. Their goal was to educate users about the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), to maximize its impact through support for its users, and to continue to build the science behind the scale. Free training is available for providers.
  • Ask the Question – Downloadable Flyer


Suicide touches whole communities