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ASCEND for Veteran Suicide Prevention


ASCEND - Assessing Social and Community Environments with National Data

One Veteran suicide is too many. We share a deep commitment to finding and addressing the factors that may lead a Veteran to take their life. Working together with Veterans and the VA we can prevent suicide and bring back hope.



The Challenge


• The motivations and circumstances that lead to suicide are complex. To understand and prevent suicide, we need to understand the whole person and his or her environment. (More information below.)
• Some Veteran populations are more at risk and can be harder to reach in healthcare and research (for example, women, rural, and recently separated Veterans).
• Veterans live and work everywhere, and the majority receive care in their local communities rather than from VA healthcare services.
• Successful suicide prevention strategies require building strong partnerships between the VA and community organizations.

Multiple Levels of Risk & Protective Factors

Click on each item below to learn more

Social-Ecological Model for Suicide Prevention

The ASCEND research study approaches suicide prevention from a social-ecological framework, which considers individual, relationship, community, and societal factors that place Veterans at risk for suicide or protect them from suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Click on each level below to learn more about the factors ASCEND addresses at each level.

Individual Level:

Sociodemographic characteristics, military service history, mental and physical health conditions, trauma history, health care utilization, barriers and willingness to seek help, discrimination, suicide-related stigma, lethal means access and attitudes, and history of suicidal self-directed violence

Interpersonal Level:

Social support and satisfaction, loneliness, relationships, and exposure to suicide.

Community Level:

Community connectedness and aspiration, social cohesion and trust, community stress and problems, neighborhood violence, and community stigma regarding suicide.

Societal Level:

To be assessed through publicly available datasets.


The Mission


To meet these challenges, the ASCEND team will reach out to Veterans across the country to learn more about how suicidal thoughts and behaviors are impacted by individual, relationship, community, and societal factors. ASCEND seeks to obtain input from Veterans who have been underrepresented in the past and who may be at increased risk for suicide.

We believe that, in partnership with the Veterans we serve, we can collect new, important information to help save Veteran lives. We highly value all Veterans’ perspectives, and sincerely hope that, if invited to do so, you will consider participating in this nationwide study, and that you will share information about ASCEND with other Veterans.

Together, we can prevent Veteran suicide!

To learn more about the study team, our partners, our commitment to Veteran privacy and data security, and about how to participate, please click on each navigation tab above.


COMIRB # 20-0719 / PI: Hoffmire / v.9/24/2020