Expanding Suicide Prevention Resources for Veterans in Greater Rochester
March 13, 2023
For nearly two decades, suicide rates rose among both veterans and civilians in the United States.
In New York State, veterans die by suicide at nearly twice the rate of civilians. In response, both the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and New York State have made significant efforts to prevent suicide among veterans, such as reducing access to lethal means and expanding access to mental health treatment. Continued and more intensive action and resources are needed to build on the momentum of these suicide prevention efforts. NYHealth supported the Veterans Outreach Center, Inc. (VOC) in 2021 to provide community-based mental health and peer support to veterans across Monroe County. In 2023, NYHealth awarded VOC a grant to expand peer support and suicide prevention services for veterans in crisis throughout the Rochester region.
Under this grant, VOC will create a physical peer support drop-in center at its main location in Rochester. It will assess the community’s needs using proven methods like focus groups and “buddy check” phone calls. Building on earlier phases of work, it will engage high-risk populations, such as women veterans and veterans of color. The center will be staffed by veteran peers and mental health professionals who will provide crisis intervention, case management, and peer support groups. Using data and feedback collected from clients and partner organizations, VOC will tailor services and hours of operation to best meet the needs of the veteran community. It will serve as a hub to connect veterans with housing, substance use disorder treatment, counseling, and referrals to VA health care and benefits. VOC will compile a report that outlines steps and lessons learned for other regions looking to expand suicide prevention efforts.