Can receiving a letter help prevent a veteran from committing suicide?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs thinks so.
The VA’s Veterans Crisis Line has formally launched its Caring Letters Program, an evidence-based suicide prevention intervention that involves sending periodic messages with simple expressions of care and concern to veterans who use VA health care and contact the VCL.
“In the first 11 weeks of the program VCL has mailed Caring Letters to almost 30,000 veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a release.
The effort is one of the largest caring letters programs ever implemented, he added.
“We’re planning to send letters to over 90,000 veterans over a 12-month period of time,” said Wilkie.
The program conforms with 2019 VA/DOD Clinical Practice Guidelines, which suggest brief, non-demanding follow-up communication keeps veterans engaged and could facilitate opportunities for connecting them with treatment options.
The release adds that research has found caring letters can reduce the rate of suicide and suicide behaviors for individuals receiving them. Caring Letters are thought to reduce suicide by promoting a feeling of caring connection and reminding veterans that help is available if needed.
Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com