House Passes Bill Aimed at Improving Psychiatric Care in the VA


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From Psychiatric News Alert: APA hailed passage this week by the House of Representatives of legislation that would help the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) attract and retain psychiatrists and improve the agency’s suicide-prevention efforts.

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act is named in honor of an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran and suicide-prevention advocate who took his own life in 2011. The bill sailed through the House in December, but it stalled in the Senate after a retiring senator, Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), objected to the cost.

Said APA President Paul Summergrad, M.D.:

“Too often the men and women who serve our country do not have timely access to the mental health care they need and deserve. Losing 22 veterans a day to suicide should move us all to immediate action. APA strongly supports the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which will make a real difference in the lives of many veterans by improving access to much needed mental health care…. We now ask that the Senate adopt this important legislation for our veterans.”

The bill would establish a pilot project encouraging more psychiatrists to choose a career with the VHA by offering medical school loan repayments on par with other government agencies and private organizations. Current policy makes it difficult for the VHA to compete with employers that offer employment incentives, such as medical school loan repayment. The bill would authorize the agency to recruit at least 10 psychiatrists into the loan-repayment program each year. It would also authorize a Government Accountability Office study of pay disparities affecting psychiatrists at the VA.

A summary of the bill is posted HERE. For more information, see the Psychiatric News article, “Push for Suicide Prevention Law Hits Senate Roadblock.”

CBT For Children With Anxiety May Confer Long-Term Suicide Prevention Benefit, Study Suggests

CBT for childhood anxiety disorder may confer long-term suicide prevention benefits. Credit: nenetus | DPC

CBT for childhood anxiety disorder may confer long-term suicide prevention benefits. Credit: nenetus | DPC

Successful cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for childhood anxiety disorder may confer long-term benefits for suicide prevention, according to a report in the Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Evidence for an independent relationship between anxiety and suicidality has been mixed. Researchers from the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine examined the relationship between response to treatment for an anxiety disorder in childhood and suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts at a follow-up interval of seven to 19 years. In the study, 66 adults were assessed, having completed CBT treatment for anxiety as children. Information regarding suicidality at follow-up was obtained via the World Mental Health Survey Initiative Version of the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview and the Beck Depression Inventory.

The follow-up data indicated that participants who responded favorably to CBT during childhood were less likely to endorse lifetime, past-month, and past-two-week suicidal ideation than were treatment nonresponders. This was consistent across self-report and interview-report of suicidal ideation.

“Results suggest more chronic and enduring patterns of suicidal ideation among those with anxiety in childhood that is not successfully treated,” the researchers stated. “This study adds to the literature that suggests successful CBT for childhood anxiety confers long-term benefits and underscores the importance of the identification and evidence-based treatment of youth anxiety.”

For more on research into suicide prevention, see the Psychiatric News article, “Novel Suicide-Prevention Treatment Targets Poor Sleep.”

Your Life Matters!

A New Suicide Prevention Campaign for Faith Communities

The Front of the SAMHSA building at 1 Choke Ch...

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) recently launched the “Your Life Matters!” campaign. During the campaign, the Action Alliance encourages every faith tradition to dedicate one day of worship each year to celebrate life, hope, and reasons to live. Faith traditions can consider observing this celebration near September 10, which is World Suicide Prevention Day. However, the message that each congregant’s life matters could be promoted anytime during the year, whenever it fits the needs of the local faith community.

Faith communities are in a unique position to reach a large portion of the millions of Americans who struggle with serious thoughts of suicide each year. Many people feel hopeless or trapped, or are in such emotional pain or despair that they struggle to face another day.

“Research shows that many people in these kinds of crises will accept help and support from faith leaders and faith community members, before they will seek care from mental health professionals,” according to Dr. Anne Mathews-Younes, Co-Lead of the Faith Communities Task Force and Division Director at SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services at HHS. Dr. Mathews-Younes suggests that “Faith communities can help their members by supporting those who face mental health challenges and/or problems with misuse of alcohol and other drugs, as they seek effective treatment.”

Learn More at Your Life Matters!

Providing Help Against a Suicide Risk

It can be scary when a friend or loved one is thinking about suicide. Let us help. If someone you know has any warning signs we encourage you to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) so that you can find out what resources are available in your area. Your call is routed to the Lifeline center closest to your area code. The local crisis center may have resources such as counseling or in-patient treatment centers for your friend or family member. Most importantly, please encourage them to call the Lifeline.

How To Be Helpful to Someone Who Is Threatening Suicide

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don’t dare him or her to do it.
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
  • Be Aware of Feelings

Many people at some time in their lives think about suicide. Most decide to live because they eventually come to realize that the crisis is temporary and death is permanent. On the other hand, people having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. These are some of the feelings and thoughts they experience:

Can’t stop the pain
Can’t think clearly
Can’t make decisions
Can’t see any way out
Can’t sleep, eat or work
Can’t get out of depression
Can’t make the sadness go away
Can’t see a future without pain
Can’t see themselves as worthwhile
Can’t get someone’s attention
Can’t seem to get control

If you experience these feelings, get help! If someone you know exhibits these symptoms, offer help!

This content was developed by the American Association of Suicidology.


This is Suicide Prevention Week

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health, is hosting World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, 2014. This year’s theme is “Suicide Prevention: One Wold Connected,” and will focus on raising awareness that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death on a global level. Governments need to develop policy frameworks for national suicide prevention strategies. At the local level, policy statements and research outcomes need to be translated into prevention programs and activities in communities.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) was founded in Vienna, Austria in 1960 as a working fellowship of researchers, clinicians, practitioners, volunteers and organizations of many kinds. IASP wishes to contribute to suicide prevention through the resources of its members and in collaboration with other major organizations in the field of prevention. AAS is proud to be a member and supporter of IASP (

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a United Nations health agency founded in April 1948. Its primary objective is to help all people attain highest possible level of health (physical, mental and social well-being). This organization carries out this objective through advocacy, education, research medical and technological development as well as the implementation of health standards and norms (

The World Federation for Mental Health’s mission is to promote the highest possible level of mental health in all aspects (biological, medical, educational and social) for all people and nations. Their goals are to heighten public awareness, promote mental health, prevent mental disorders and improve the care and treatment of those with mental disorders (


Warning Signs for Suicide:

These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. Seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings


Invitation to the World Premiere of “A Choice to Heal–Mental Health in California”

FROM NAMI CALIFORNIA: Kevin Hines, who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and Survived, Hosts this World Premiere Evening.

The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) invites you to join them for the premiere of the documentary “A Choice to Heal-Mental Health in California” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, 2014, at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento in commemoration of May Mental Health Awareness Month.

This documentary, hosted by actress Mariel Hemingway and sponsored by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, will air on CBS stations in California on May 31, 2014. The documentary details California’s groundbreaking approach to the prevention and early intervention of mental illness-an approach that is at the forefront of changing and improving the nation’s mental health care system.

Speaker Kevin Hines will host the premiere at the Crest. Kevin has a very powerful story; in 2000, he tried to kill himself by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. He now reaches millions as he travels globally teaching others the importance of suicide prevention and mental health awareness. His book, Cracked Not Broken, is in its 13th printing.

This is a free event, open to the public. Snacks and beverages will be available for purchase. To make your reservation to attend, please RSVP to Communications Director Jennifer

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New Mobile App to Provide a Safety Net and Lifeline for Suicidal Individuals

As part of a comprehensive Suicide Prevention Initiative, the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) has launched a new Mobil app, “MY3” which will help individuals at risk for suicide to quickly connect to their support network, and their own plan to stay safe.

The MY3 app has three fully customizable features that can be used at the first signs of emotional distress; 1) A phonebook with three primary contacts to call for support, in addition to phone numbers to connect individuals to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and 911, 2) a step-by-step plan and 3) tailored resources.

MY3 was created in partnership with the “Know the Signs” statewide suicide prevention campaign.

The MY3 app is funded by counties through the voter approved Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) (Prop. 63).

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