The SMVF Suicide Prevention Workgroup in Mecklenburg County stood up in the summer of 2018 in response to an invitation from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to participate in the Mayor’s Challenge to End Suicide. Their vision is All who have served will thrive, knowing they belong and where to go to find hope rather than choosing suicide.

This Community Collaborative consists of 99 members across 12 Veterans Health Administration Programs, 19 unique Healthcare Providers/Systems, and 23 Community Organizations.  It is organized into action-oriented committees focused on outreach, education, and awareness at college campuses and across the 54 organizations that are represented. In October, the SMVF Suicide Prevention Workgroup participated in the Out of Darkness walk in Charlotte to help raise money for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Their Vision: All who have served will thrive, knowing they belong and where to go to find hope rather than choosing suicide.

What is the problem? Service Members, Veterans, and family members are choosing to end their lives by suicide when interventions are available and work.

Twenty veterans die by suicide every day (2017).  Five Veterans Die by Suicide every week in NC (2017). Suicide is impacting Active Duty, Reserve, and Guard strength with 601 suicide deaths in 2016.

Who is impacted? The entire community, especially individuals, families, and systems with whom individuals in distress have a relationship.

What can be done?

  • Strengthen economic supports.
  • Strengthen access and delivery of suicide care.
  • Create protective environments.
  • Promote connectedness.
  • Teach coping and problem-solving skills.
  • Identify and support people at risk.
  • Lessen harms and prevent future risk.

Who can help? Anyone who shows up with curiosity, compassion, and a willingness to engage in relationships with intention.

If you would like to learn more, please contact Nicole French, Psy.D., Veterans Bridge Home (nfrench@veteransbridgehome.org) or Janene McGee, Mecklenburg County Veterans Services (Janene.McGee@mecklenburgcountync.gov).