Bronx Veterans Medical Research Foundation
January 2021 – December 2021
Veterans in New York experience suicide rates nearly twice as high as their civilian counterparts and have witnessed a dramatic increase in firearm usage in each of the last seven years.
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers warned that veterans may experience a “perfect storm” of circumstances that could elevate their risk of suicide, including increases in social isolation, widespread economic anxiety, and decreased access to mental health care. Equally concerning is the growing number of veterans in New York who use firearms in suicide attempts—the deadliest lethal mean, fatal in 85% of attempts compared with 5% for all others.
The Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM) training model was developed to help health care providers implement counseling strategies to assist clients who are at risk for suicide by reducing access to lethal means—particularly, though not exclusively, to firearms. Though it is the gold standard for lethal means access counseling, there is a need to expand the reach of CALM and further adapt it for nonclinical communities. In 2020, NYHealth awarded the Bronx Veterans Medical Research Foundation (BVMRF) a grant to tailor and deliver CALM trainings to families and caregivers as well as increase its uptake among clinicians throughout New York State.