Firearms Trade Association and Suicide Prevention Foundation teams with VA to prevent veteran suicide

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The collaboration seeks to reduce the nearly 7 in 10 US veteran suicides that result from firearms.

For Immediate Release

(Oakland, California | 2/20/2019) – The historic partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has the potential to curb veterans’ suicide as well as open up a national discussion about safe firearm storage practices.

In a new article appearing in the Federal Practitioner, VHPI Senior Policy Analyst Russell B. Lemle, PhD, writes “this partnership represents the nation’s biggest advance in forging common ground on an issue where polarization has interfered with lifesaving initiatives.”

Nearly 7 in 10 veteran suicides are a result of a firearm. Studies have shown that securely storing firearms creates critical distance and time from when an individual chooses to take their own life and the means to do so. The collaboration is another step the VA has taken in recent years to broaden its suicide prevention efforts. Community involvement is key, as the majority of veteran suicides occur with veterans who do not seek care at the VA.

“Nothing will be more effective in diminishing suicide than correcting the false belief among many veterans that the VA wants to take away their guns,” said Lemle. “When that misperception is corrected, not only will more at-risk veterans seek out VA mental health care, but it also could become the norm for veterans, families and friends to speak up because, ‘Buddies talk to buddies in crisis about safely storing guns.’”

Lemle is the VA-Community Care Workgroup Lead for the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders (AVAPL) and is Clinical Professor, University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical School, Department of Psychiatry. He worked at the San Francisco VA Healthcare System from 1981 to 2018 and served as Chief Psychologist for 25 years. Lemle has received numerous awards for his service to the nation’s veterans and contributed to numerous Congressional committee hearings and special commissions.

Read the full article, VA Forges a Historic Partnership to Prevent Veteran Suicide with the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, at the Federal Practitioner.

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The Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute, a non-partisan, 501(c)3 non profit organization, tank that empowers veterans and provides evidence-based information to decision makers that leads to better healthcare outcomes for veterans. VHPI was founded by veterans and their caregivers, healthcare providers and professionals, and healthcare journalists in 2016. Learn more at veteranspolicy.org/about and on Twitter and Facebook.

Brett Copeland