State News
May 5, 2016

Vermont agencies, VA collaborate on Zero Suicide initiative

The White River Junction Veteran Affairs Medical Center (WRJ VAMC) is collaborating with the Vermont Department of Mental Health, the Center for Health and Learning and the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center to address the rising suicide rate in the State of Vermont. Vermont’s recent suicide rate has climbed from 27th to seventh in the nation just in the last two years. Veteran suicide rates are also on the rise. The most recent data shows that over the last 10 years the veteran suicide rate has increased by 25 percent, compared to a 12 percent increase for non-veterans.

Meghan Snitkin, LICSW, Veterans Affairs suicide prevention coordinator; Dr. Laura Gibson, associate chief of Mental Health and Behavioral Science Services ; and Dr. Brett Rusch, M.D., chief of Mental Health and Behavioral Science Services, will head up the initiative for the VA.

“The collaboration is founded on the Zero Suicide Initiative, which is to say suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and behavioral health systems are preventable,” Snitkin said. “This is based on the realization that individuals at risk for suicide often fall through cracks in a fragmented, and sometimes distracted, health care system. By collaborating with state agencies, the VA will participate in a system-wide approach to improve outcomes and close gaps to reduce the number of suicides.”

Zero Suicide is a commitment to relentlessly pursue a reduction in the suicide rate and improve the quality of health care for those who seek help.

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