Obama Administration Strengthens Suicide-Prevention Activities

President Obama signed an executive order to strengthen federal suicide-prevention efforts for military personnel and to enhance treatment services for service members, veterans, and family members suffering from mental health issues and substance abuse. “Long deployments and intense combat conditions require optimal support for the emotional and mental health needs of our service members and their families,” states the White House’s release. More than two million US military personnel have served in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11, according to the Aug. 31 release. Among its provisions, the executive order directs the Veterans Affairs Department to: work with the Defense Department to develop and implement a national 12-month suicide-prevention campaign focused on connecting veterans to mental health services; increase its veteran crisis line capacity by 50 percent by year’s end; and ensure that any veteran identifying himself as being in crisis connects with a mental health professional within 24 hours. The executive order also calls for “a national research action plan” to improve early diagnosis and treatment effectiveness for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.