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Governor Carney, Lt. Governor Hall-Long Support Veterans Affairs’ Governor’s Challenge on Suicide Prevention

Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor Carney and Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long on Wednesday announced their support for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s (SAMHSA) Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families.

The Governor’s challenge is a national initiative that promotes a coordinated public health approach that focuses on increasing understanding of the issues related to suicide prevention. As advocates, the Delaware team will promote best practices through sharing efforts within and across states while engaging city, county, and state stakeholders to enhance and align local and state-wide suicide prevention efforts.

“Delawareans who commit their life to service give so much to our state and our country, and it can have difficult impacts. We are grateful to the VA for their focus on this issue,” said Governor Carney. “As Governor Markell used to say, Delaware is a ‘state of neighbors.’ We’re always looking out for each other. Delawareans can work together through this important initiative and prevent suicide among at-risk service members, veterans and their families. There is no better advocate for mental health than our Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long and that’s why I’ve designated her as team leader.”

The Office of the Governor will partner with the VA and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) SAMHSA through a call to action for state and local communities to implement the National Strategy for the Prevention of Veteran Suicide. Delawareans can work together through this initiative and prevent suicide among at-risk Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF) using a comprehensive public health approach.

The State of Delaware has already begun to implement suicide prevention efforts, participation in this initiative will allow us to further implement best policies and practices to advance our suicide prevention efforts for Service members, Veterans, and their families by using a comprehensive public health approach. In selecting our state interagency team, careful consideration will be given to identifying individuals who can influence state-level policy development and change. Suicide is a national public health issue that impacts everyone.

“Too often members of our armed services come home with invisible scars and suffer in silence. Tragically, veterans were 20 percent of the United State’s suicides in 2021. As the wife and daughter of veterans, I know firsthand, that we must do better. Access to quality behavioral health services is critical for active-duty members, veterans, and their families.” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Ph.D., R.N. “This partnership between the Veterans Hospital and SAMHSA to implement the Governor’s Challenge greatly advances the efforts of the Delaware Behavioral Health Consortium.  This collaboration will aid in preventing suicide among at-risk members of Delaware’s military community.”

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the 11th in Delaware. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, approximately 45,000 people die from suicide each year. Informed and coordinated medical care, coupled with mental health and crisis support services are critical for people showing signs of suicide risk in their thoughts or behavior.

“One life lost to suicide is one too many,” said Vince Kane, Wilmington VA Medical Center Director. “Suicide prevention efforts go beyond the walls of health care and into the communities throughout our state. We are eager to partner with the Governor and Lt. Governors offices as well as joining forces with support from the Delaware National Guard.” 

Both our state and nation owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who have served in uniform. Helping service members, Veterans and their families find the resources they need is vital to taking care of our community. This will also give us a chance to work with a defined group and to utilize what we learn to help improve our overall approach to suicide prevention.

It is imperative that our Veteran and military communities, service organizations, and community organizations work with the state to plan our approach. The VA has already established a number of pathways for helping Veterans find treatment. These apply for those who get care from the Wilmington VA Medical Center, and those who call the VA’s 24/7 National Crisis Line (1-800-273- 8255 and Press 1) or the Delaware Hope Line (1-833-9-HOPEDE). 

All Delawareans must work together to adopt effective strategies statewide that will help reduce risk among our military communities. As a State, the initiative stands as a call to action: start the conversation and help spread the word to prevent suicide among Veterans.

Click here for more information on the Governor’s Challenge.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call the Delaware Hope Line: 1-833-9-HOPEDE