VA Mental Health – Health Care Providers Addressing Suicide Risk
Health Care Provider
A number of resources are available to health care providers who work with Veterans and may be concerned about a Veteran experiencing a suicidal crisis.
Training for Health Care Providers
This website offers free training for communities and health care providers on the Columbia Protocol, which is used for suicide risk assessments.
VA strongly advises the use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) when treating patients, including the assessment and management of Veterans at risk for suicide.
Our partners at PsychArmor Institute offer free military competence training to educate individuals about the unique needs of people in the military community.
VA providers and community providers who work with Veterans can receive free, one-on-one consultation to enhance their therapeutic practice. To get started, email SRMconsult@va.gov.
Create an account on VA’s tool, TRAIN, to access courses and documents on many topics, including suicide prevention.
VA S.A.V.E. — which stands for “Signs,” “Ask,” “Validate,” and “Encourage” and “Expedite” — offers simple steps that anyone can take when talking with Veterans who may be at risk for suicide. The training video is available for free at https://psycharmor.org/courses/s-a-v-e.
From Science to Practice
From Science to Practice is a literature review series to help clinicians put suicide prevention research into action. The series translates evidence-based research into informative and practical steps that health care providers can take to help support their Veteran patients. The series describes a number of suicide risk and protective factors. No single risk or protective factor on its own causes or protects against suicide.
- Alcohol Use Disorder – A Risk Factor for Suicide Among Veterans
- Altitude of Residence and Suicide Risk
- Barriers to Mental Health Care Experienced by Veterans
- Caregivers of Veterans and Suicide Risk
- Chronic Illness – Quality of Life, Mental Health and Suicide Risk Among Veterans
- Chronic Pain – A Risk Factor for Suicide Among Veterans
- Divorce, Separation, and Suicide Risk
- Employment Status and Suicide Risk
- Financial Strain, Economic Uncertainty and Suicide Risk
- Housing Instability and Homelessness – A Risk Factor for Suicide Among Veterans
- Interpersonal Violence and Suicide Risk
- Intimate Partner Violence — A Risk Factor for Suicide Among Veterans
- Justice-involved Veterans and Suicide Risk
- Lethal Means Safety Among Veterans at Risk for Suicide
- LGBTQ+ and Related Identities and Suicide Risk Among Veterans
- Loneliness and Social Isolation – Risk Factors for Suicide
- Military Sexual Trauma – A Risk Factor for Suicide Among Veterans
- Moral Injury – A Risk Factor for Suicide Among Veterans
- Non-suicidal Self-injury and Self-harm
- Older Veterans (Aged 55+) and Suicide Risk
- Opioid Use – A Risk Factor for Suicide Among Veterans
- Postvention – Mental Health Care following a Death by Suicide
- Premilitary Trauma and Suicide Risk
- Rurality and Suicide Risk Among Rural Veterans
- Separation from Service – A Period of Increased Suicide Risk
- Service Discharge Status and Suicide Risk
- Sleep Disorders and Suicide Risk
- Social Support – A Protective Factor Against Suicide
- Stress, Emotional Distress and Suicide Risk
- Substance Use Disorder – A Risk Factor for Suicide Among Veterans
- The Phenomenology of Suicide
- Traumatic Brain Injury, Concussions and Suicide Risk
- Ways Veterans Differ from the General Population
- Women Veterans – Mental Health and Suicide Risk
- Women Veterans – Reproductive Health and Suicide Risk
- Younger Veterans (Aged 18–34) and Suicide Risk
Health care providers can find more information about suicide prevention in the Community Provider Toolkit.
Resources To Share With Veterans
Veterans can search for free VA apps that provide tools and information for managing symptoms and stress, learning to practice mindfulness, and strengthening parenting skills.
Each VA medical center has a Suicide Prevention Coordinator to connect Veterans with counseling and services.
This self-help portal provides tools to help Veterans overcome everyday challenges in an entirely anonymous environment. Using the tools, Veterans can work on problem-solving, manage their anger, develop parenting skills, and more.
In Clinicians’ Own Words
Clinicians can use Make the Connection as a tool to engage with Veterans or their family members who may be reluctant to seek support.