Veterans Mental Health Coalition of NYC Suicide Awareness Discussion

April 17, 2019

The Veterans Mental Health Coalition of NYC brought together mental health providers to discuss assessing veterans at risk for suicide and helping them identify the correct resource and treatment. The Veterans Mental Health Coalition of NYC’s mission is to improve access to, and quality of, mental health and substance abuse care for the military-connected community through educational programming, information, and skills training for organizations and individuals who wish to become more effective in their delivery of services to this veteran community.

Attendees were introduced to the various factors many service members endure upon their return from military service and entry into civilian life. Guest speakers Dr. Kelly Posner and Dr. Joseph Geraci led the discussion, highlighting suicide prevention protocols and how individuals who are at risk can attain the appropriate help and services they need. Dr. Posner discussed breaking down barriers around the stigma of suicide and provided knowledge on the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS). The C-SSRS is an invaluable assessment tool which pin points individuals that may have been overlooked. The C-SSRS bridges the gap between the servicemember at risk for suicide and the appropriate care needed. Retired US Army Battalion Commander Dr. Joseph Geraci, who works in education and clinical practice initiatives at the Bronx VA, provided personal insight on how providers can connect to veterans who may be at risk for suicide. Dr. Geraci conducted a role playing exercise for providers to show them what a conversation with a potential candidate who may be at risk for suicide would entail and how to appropriately assess and help that veteran get the appropriate level of care. Dr. Posner and Dr. Geraci brought to light the discussions that mental health providers may or may not be having with service members who are at risk for suicide. Their professional and personal expertise informed us that a little love and empathy can make the biggest difference in changing and saving lives.

For more information on the C-SSRS please visit http://cssrs.columbia.edu/
For more information on The Veterans Mental Health Coalition please visit https://www.vibrant.org/what-we-do/advocacy-policy-education/the-veterans-mental-health-coalition/