The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to establish a review team to track veteran suicides in an attempt to provide more effective intervention.
Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Sheila Kuehl co-authored the motion, saying that despite already shocking numbers, they believe suicides among veterans are undercounted.
“Most of us are aware that the statistic nationwide is an estimated 20 veterans a day die by suicide,” Barger said. “But this data is only reflective of national trends and (we need) localized data to ensure that we are targeting the most vulnerable populations. We know this does not always account for many veterans not being treated by the V.A. or enrolled in V.A. benefits.”
The review team is the result of months of work assessing feasibility and the potential for record sharing across various service providers. It will be a one-year pilot.
Over the next 90 days, county staffers will develop recommendations for who should make up the team, which department should take lead responsibility and how to best work with the state Department of Health’s initiative on suicide. This is just one of several mental health initiatives that is drawing new focus as the psychological effects of the pandemic becomes clearer.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the Department of Mental Health is hosting a monthlong series of free community programs and events to highlight the healing power of art and connection for residents of all ages.
The initiative, in its fourth year, is called WE RISE.
More information is available at werise.la, including an event calendar and map. New events are continually being added to the schedule.