On March 27-29, Mecklenburg County sent 14 representatives from various stakeholder agencies across North Carolina to participate in the Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF) Policy Academy in Arlington, Virginia. Mecklenburg County was one of seven communities that participated. Other sites included Kansas City, MO; Truckee Meadows, NV; Suffolk County, NY, Oklahoma City, OK; Tulsa, OK; and Clarksville, TN.
The key objectives of the Mayor’s Challenge included the following: (1) strengthen the capacity of the interagency military and civilian team of leaders to prevent and reduce suicide among SMVF; (2) deepen the development of the local implementation plan to align with the National Strategy for the Prevention of Veteran Suicide; (3) acquire a deeper familiarity with the issues surrounding suicide prevention for SMVF; (4) increase knowledge about the challenges and lessons learned in implementing strategies by utilizing community to community sharing; (5) employ promising, best, and evidence-based practices to prevent and reduce suicide at the local level; and (6) define and measure success, including identifying assignments, deadlines, and measurable outcomes to be reported.
Prior to the academy, the NC team identified four areas of priority: data, education and training, communication and social media, and outreach. At the academy, the NC team worked hard to further identify best practices and develop their action plan as it related to these priority areas. The team will meet again in May.