MIRECC of the VA Rocky Mountain Network (VISN 19 MIRECC)
VISN 19 MIRECC Mission
The mission of the VISN 19 MIRECC is to study suicide with the goal of reducing suicidal ideation and behaviors in the Veteran population. Towards this end, the work of the VISN 19 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.
Suicide Prevention: Show Veterans They Matter
The new VA Suicide Prevention campaign encourages Veterans and their loved ones to focus on the things that give life meaning—the things that matter. Anyone who knows a Veteran can help. It’s up to all of us to get educated, get involved, and take action to help Veterans access the support and care they deserve.
Recognize the Warning Signs
The first step in preventing suicide is understanding the warning signs; people may show signs of risk before considering harming themselves. If you notice these warning signs, tell a Veteran about the Veterans Crisis Line, or make the call (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1) yourself. Caring professionals at the Veterans Crisis Line — many of them Veterans themselves — are ready to listen and provide support.
The Veterans Crisis Line also provides online chats and text messages at 838255
Of particular interest to Veterans/families: Take the Self-Check Quiz from the Veterans Crisis Line
Of particular interest to clinicians: A model for therapeutic risk management of the suicidal patient.
A model for therapeutic risk management of the suicidal patient
By Hal Wortzel MD, Bridget Matarazzo PsyD, Beeta Homaifar PhD.
Risk management is a reality of psychiatric practice, and this necessitates practicing (and documenting) thoughtful suicide risk assessment and management. The Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 19 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) has developed a multidisciplinary suicide consultation service, offering consultations to mental health professionals serving Veterans thought to be at high risk for suicide. The service spans a number of treatment settings, such as outpatient mental health clinics, inpatient psychiatric units, residential posttraumatic stress disorder treatment programs, substance use disorder clinics, and primary care-based behavioral health services.
The service has evolved over half a decade to accommodate the needs of Veterans and providers in these various treatment settings while employing medicolegally informed clinical and documentation practices to realize what Simon and Shuman have termed “therapeutic risk management.” Over a series of columns an overview of the model that has evolved is described. The first article in the series starts with a review of the concept of therapeutic risk management, and then goes on to describe core aspects of the risk assessment and management consultation process utilized, including: augmenting clinical risk assessment with structured instruments; stratifying risk in terms of both severity and temporality; and developing and documenting a safety plan. These elements are readily accessible to and deployable by mental health clinicians in most disciplines and treatment settings, and they collectively yield a suicide risk assessment and management process (and attendant documentation) that should withstand the scrutiny that often occurs in the wake of a patient suicide or suicide attempt.
View abstract in Pubmed at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23852108
Talking About It Matters
“Talking About It Matters” emphasizes the fact that reaching out to a Veteran in crisis and asking the question can make all the difference. It can also be the most difficult step. Guidance on when, how and what to ask can be found in the ACE brochure.
Take Action: ACE
The purpose of ACE is to help Veterans, their family members and friends learn that they can take the necessary steps to get help.
The acronym ACE (Ask, Care, Escort) summarizes the steps needed to take an active and valuable role in suicide prevention.
The ACE card can be ordered online free of charge.
The Show Us What Matters Photo Campaign
The VA is encouraging Veterans and their loved ones to share what matters to them through photo sharing campaign. Upload a picture showing what matters to you or a Veteran you know at VeteransCrisisLine.net/SPM/Gallery.
Related research: Veterans who are able to identify things that matter to them are less likely to report suicidal thoughts - Read more here
The role of value importance and success in understanding suicidal ideation among Veterans.
By Nazanin H. Bahraini, Maria D. Devore, Lindsey L. Monteith,
Jeri E. Forster, Stephen Bensen, Lisa A. Brenner
Recent studies highlight the need for increased understanding of risk and protective factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviors among Veterans. Although personal values have been studied in regard to psychological well-being, the degree to which suicidal ideation relates to difficulties successfully living according to one's values or identifying values that are important has yet to be examined in civilian or Veteran populations. One hundred and twenty-two Veterans at an urban medical center completed the Survey of Life Principles (SLP; Ciarrochi & Bailey, 2008), a measure of personal values across several life domains, and the Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation (BSS; Beck & Steer, 1993). Electronic medical records were reviewed to obtain medical histories. As hypothesized, both the ability to identify values and engage in behavior consistent with values were associated with decreased odds of reporting suicidal ideation, controlling for past suicidal behavior, history of mental health treatment, and psychiatric co-morbidity. Findings suggest that the role of different value dimensions as potential protective factors for suicidal ideation in the Veteran population may warrant further exploration.
Veterans’ inspiring stories about the importance of seeking help.
For instance, the story "I didn't see myself as needing help" tells about how one Veteran overcame the stigma associated with asking for help:
Arthur came home from Vietnam and didn't talk about his experiences. Years later, anger began to affect his relationships at work. He couldn't understand what was happening to him, felt hopeless, and at one point considered ending his life. Then, Arthur reached out to VA, began a PTSD program, and is following a path to a more fulfilling life.
View Arthur's story at "I didn't see myself as needing help"
View other stories at http://maketheconnection.net/
Connect Veterans in Need
Support is just a call, click, or text away. Help spread the word that free confidential support for Veterans in need and their loved ones is always available through the Veterans Crisis Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Of Particular Interest to Veterans/Families
Of Particular Interest to Clinicians