VA Partners with OnStar in Suicide Prevention

VA Partners with OnStar on Veteran Suicide Prevention

VA Partners with OnStar in Suicide Prevention

The VA recently announced a new partnership with OnStar emergency services. The goal of the partnership is to improve access to suicide prevention resources for Veterans.

Suicide among our Veteran population produces alarming statistics.

  • Over 6,000 Veterans die by suicide each year
  • Suicide rates among Veterans are 1.5 times higher than non-Veterans
  • The average number of suicides per day is rising

These statistics demand the expansion of prevention strategies. Legislation, such as the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act and

Brandon Act, work to provide just that. These Acts bolster suicide prevention efforts by removing barriers to mental health services.

Mental Health Crisis

The new partnership between the VA and OnStar connects Veterans in crisis to confidential support. OnStar is an existing emergency service designed to make users feel safer. The partnership is built on the understanding that suicidal thoughts constitute a crisis.

It is important to understand that no single explanation for suicide exists. There is no single path to or away from suicide and no single medical explanation, treatment, or prevention strategy. Mental health management and suicide prevention are not one-size-fits-all.

OnStar utilizes the power of human connection and connects Veterans in crisis with humans trained in assessment suicide prevention strategies.

How OnStar Helps

OnStar, a subsidiary of General Motors, is a subscription-based emergency service. Pressing a button during a crisis connects you to a trained Advisor.

This button is available in most General Motors vehicles and can be made available in other makes of vehicles. The OnStar Guardian App allows eligible users to take this safety button with them beyond the vehicle.

Veterans will be able use OnStar from their vehicle or through the OnStar Guardian App to be connected to confidential support through the Veterans Crisis Line.

OnStar call center staff will receive training to facilitate Veteran suicide prevention. The VA will also provide education about military culture to call center staff.

Veterans Crisis Line

According to the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, The Veterans Crisis Line is the world’s largest call, text, and chat service providing crisis support. The service answers calls in an average of 8 seconds and serves over 650,000 calls per year.

The new partnership with OnStar is just one of hundreds of VA partnerships. The VA partners with Veterans Service Organizations, professional sports teams, major employers, and community-based mental health providers to raise suicide awareness and improve suicide prevention resources.

 

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About the author

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Chelsea Bostelman is a registered nurse who stays busy with freelance writing, exploring Europe, and working on a graduate degree in nursing. She founded the Stuttgart Nurse Journal Club to provide underemployed nurses with free continuing education opportunities. A 10-year military spouse, she and her family spend their free time hiking, biking, and eating in southern Germany.