Recently, the Biden administration announced a new military and Veterans suicide prevention roadmap. The plan, which is designed to coordinate prevention efforts across the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and other key federal agencies, outlines the administration’s five key priority areas to reduce the statistics on suicide: 1. Improve Lethal Means Safety, 2. Enhance Crisis Care and Facilitate Care Transitions, 3. Increase Access to and Delivery of Effective Care, 4. Address Upstream Risk and Protective Factors, and 5. Increase Research Coordination, Data Sharing, and Evaluation Efforts.
While we applaud the administration for recognizing the moral imperative to address the suicide epidemic among our nation’s Veterans and service members through a coordinated long-term strategic vision, Cohen Veterans Bioscience (CVB)‚Äîas a brain health research organization‚Äîwould like to see research into the underlying causes of suicide brought to the forefront of the discussion.
Research has consistently shown that the invisible wounds, post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) markedly increase the risk of suicide among active-duty service members and Veterans. Additional targeted research investments would more quickly advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatments that will reduce the impact of these disorders on military members and their families.
We encourage the administration to leverage interagency collaboration and public-private partnerships with those in the research community, so the benefits of new and existing research into the invisible wounds can be maximized more quickly.
Further, we urge the administration to recognize that improvements in clinical outcomes for the invisible wounds cannot be achieved without a careful examination of current treatment guidelines and treatment options, particularly for the long-term symptoms of PTS and TBI.
Finally, we praise the administration for recognizing the importance of data sharing to advance scientific discovery and suicide prevention and encourage the involvement of external experts in large-scale data science-based analytics and machine-based modeling, to ensure a collaborative strategy toward identifying biomarkers for suicide risk that can be widely employed.
CVB stands ready to partner with the administration to be part of the solution and make it easier for Veterans and service members to get the care they need for the invisible wounds of war.
Cohen Veterans Bioscience is a non-profit 501(c)(3) biomedical research and technology organization dedicated to advancing brain health by fast-tracking precision diagnostics and tailored therapeutics.