This summer, Arizona was one of seven states and communities selected for the first cohort of a Policy Academy focused on Suicide Mortality Review. The academy was conducted as part of the VA/SAMHSA Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans & Their Families. Arizona has had a state team operating continuously since 2010, co-led by the Arizona Coalition for Military Families.
As part of the academy, a multi-disciplinary team representing key partners from across sectors, systems, and communities around Arizona was assembled to engage in strategic planning around Suicide Mortality Review. This is a structured process intended to better understand deaths by suicide so we can implement prevention strategies to save lives in the future. Arizona already operates a legislatively mandated Suicide Mortality Review process housed with the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The goal for participating in the academy was to explore the potential for a Veteran-specific Suicide Mortality Review team. Through a structured technical assistance process, the team generated two goals:
GOAL 1: A Veteran-Specific Centralized Suicide Mortality Process for Arizona
- This team will operate under the Arizona Department of Health Services and provide the process to strengthen our understanding of the veteran deaths by suicide that have taken place in Arizona.
- The goal is to generate prevention recommendations that can then be implemented by Be Connected and our partners to have a direct impact on our military, veteran and family population across the state.
Goal #2: Streamlining and Expanding
- While prevention is crucial, we must also acknowledge the individuals left behind by those who have died by suicide and the significant increase in risk for those who have experienced a suicide loss.
- The goal is to provide guidance and support for people, organizations and communities after a loss, including the extended circle of people who may be impacted (e.g. immediate and extended family, friends, coworkers, organization and community members, etc.).
- This information will be tailored to our community’s specific needs and encourage access to support into the future, not just in the immediate aftermath.