The Clay Hunt SAV bill is relevant to the mental health field because it brings to light, even more now than we have seen in the past, the huge problem of suicide among active duty military and veterans.
It also reminds us that we still don’t have the “right answer” as to how to help these veterans and active military personnel. Attempts have been made for a number of years, but the fact is that we do not yet have the best solution to the problem.
Kerry L. Knox, PhD, and colleagues published a paper in 2012 about the efforts in the U.S. Air Force to deal with the issue of suicide. There is also a paper coming out from the American Psychiatric Association on a very recent study that addresses attempts to solve the problem of suicide in this population. In both of these studies, the researchers found that interventions can help. However, the problem has not gone away, and it remains an issue. Further studies and programs are needed.
This new law mandates that the Department of Veterans Affairs takes a closer look at potential programs that may reduce the suicide rate, or deal with it in a more effective way. It also mandates to study the programs.
It is not easy from a scientific and epidemiological standpoint to study the interventions that work and do not work. Hopefully, the bill will encourage follow-up studies to see which practices work best to prevent suicide.
It allows a mechanisms for producing more psychiatrists who will likely go into the VA. We need as many well-trained mental health professionals in the VA and in the military to deal with this and other problems we are seeing among those who are returning home.
Harry Croft, MD
Chief, CNS Trials, Clinical Trials of Texas
Former Army psychiatrist
Disclosures: Croft reports no relevant financial disclosures.