Background: While the US Department of Veterans Affairs has made significant strides to prevent veteran suicide, efforts have largely targeted veterans actively engaged in and eligible for Veterans Health Administration (VHA) care, which is consistent with the VHA mission. The majority of veterans are not enrolled in VHA care, and many are ineligible for services. Veterans not connected to VHA have experienced an increase in suicides in recent years.
Observations: Since 2018, VHA National Center for Patient Safety has funded the Patient Safety Center of Inquiry-Suicide Prevention Collaborative (PSCI-SPC), which has worked to develop, implement, and evaluate practical solutions aimed at curbing the rising suicide rate among veterans not receiving VHA care. PSCI-SPC has 3 guiding objectives: (1) Develop and test a collaborative, organizational structure to connect VHA and community organizations, such as national, local, public, private, nonprofit, and academic partners who provide high-quality and timely health care; (2) Build and test a learning collaborative to facilitate sharing of VHA suicide prevention best practices with community partners to increase availability, consistency, and quality of mental health services for all veterans; and (3) Implement, test, and refine a novel program to provide affordable suicide prevention interventions to veterans with mental health needs, regardless of their use of, or eligibility for, VHA services. This paper details the current progress for this demonstration project. As these objectives are met, PSCI-SPC will create and disseminate products to support broad implementation of these practices to other VA medical centers and the communities they are embedded in.
Conclusions: PSCI-SPC seeks to fill an important gap in veteran health care by serving as a national clinical innovation and dissemination center for best practices in suicide prevention for veterans who receive care in their communities.