Purpose of the Meeting, Key Participants
The purpose of the meeting is to explore increasing the number of suicides among soldiers and veterans, the factors contributing to this problem, and strategies for prevention. The key participants of this meeting are five witnesses and experts in the field. Captain Michael Colston MD is a US Navy Director for mental health programs for the Health Services Policy and Oversight Office at the Department of Defense. Dr. Karina Orvis is a Director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office. Dr. Miller represents the suicide prevention program at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Dr. McKeon is a suicide prevention branch chief in the Center for Mental Health Services of Substance Abuse. Dr. Ron Kessler is a professor in the Healthcare Policy Department at Harvard Medical School.
Key Agenda Items, Meetings Logistics
At this meeting, the Armed Services Sub-Committee on Personnel puts on the agenda the issue of increasing the suicide rate in the army. Also, the sub-committee intends to consider the factors influencing the increase in suicides, prevention measures, and methods. Senator Thom Tillis, who chairs the meeting, listens to statements and witnesses’ testimony on preventing suicide among soldiers and veterans. The room in which the meeting takes place is relatively large with a table and chairs. At the head of the table is the Chairman of the meeting, and five witnesses sit opposite him. Moreover, the pace of the audience is located behind the witnesses. Various records and documents of the participants of the meeting are spread out on the tables. For each witness to be heard, all participants in the meeting use microphones.
Background Information and Description of the Committee
The committee has several main goals and objectives that they try to fulfill. First of all, since suicide is a rapidly growing problem, the committee is faced with reducing its growth rate. Second, support for veterans and soldiers should be manifested both in moral assistance and in financial terms (Soldier and veteran suicide prevention, 2019). Ensuring access to quality healthcare should be considered the committee’s top priority.
The Increase in The Number of Suicides Among the Military and Veterans
The meeting focuses on the issue of an increasing rate of suicide among military personnel and veterans. Recently, the number of suicides has been steadily increasing; it is believed that the reason for this is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Stanley et al., 2019). However, the research has shown that combat missions are not directly linked to suicide deaths. The meeting discusses psychological factors that affect military personnel’s mental health who have to make sacrifices, change their place of residence, and live under unpredictable conditions. In this regard, the committee should recognize the difficulties faced by military personnel and how this burden leads to mental health problems. This committee’s leaders should determine what factors influence the increase in suicides among military personnel and establish a strategy to prevent the spread of this problem.
Positions of the Key Stakeholders
Michael Colston highlights alcohol and other substances as one of the factors contributing to suicide in the military. According to the Captain, the harsh conditions in the army and the traumatic consequences of service lead veterans and soldiers to alcohol dependence. Moreover, Michael Colston states that financial assistance and security can help prevent the spread of suicide among military personnel and veterans. Dr. Orvis presents several strategies for preventing suicide among veterans and the military. Karin Orvis also confirms that, according to statistics, the suicide rate has increased recently.
Dr. Miller and the Suicide Prevention program offer to provide moral and financial assistance to veterans and soldiers. Dr. McKeon believes that local and state governments should pay more attention to healthcare and psychological support. Thus, he argues that expanding support programs will have a positive impact on solving this problem. Ron Kessler believes that more surveys and research should be conducted on this issue. Questionnaires and studies have proven that they can qualitatively evaluate psychometric data and produce more accurate results (Ringer et al., 2018). The availability of more information will help to approach the issue of suicide and spread awareness qualitatively.
Key Interactions of the Meeting
Among the key interactions that occurred during the meeting, it is not easy to single out one thing. Throughout the meeting, the Chairman asked the witnesses questions about the agenda. Each witness expressed what measures should be taken to prevent the spread of suicides among military personnel. Thus, Dr. Orvis spoke about the Department of Defense strategies, which were able, albeit slightly, to reduce the increase in suicides. Furthermore, during the meeting, an opinion was expressed about how the gender and race of a soldier can affect the risk of committing suicide. According to other studies, race and gender impact the possibility of suicide (Pruitt et al., 2019). Similarly, these factors play a special role in the military, which was discussed at the meeting.
At the end of the meeting, the Chairman and the witnesses concluded that the increase in the suicide rate is, indeed, alarming. Also, possible measures to prevent such a problem were suggested. The Department of Defense has put forward possible strategies to solve this problem. These strategies include identifying and supporting people at risk, teaching survival and problem-solving skills, and responding to red flags on social media. Karin Orvis suggests an initiative to reduce the stigma around suicide. In her opinion, it is essential to teach the younger generation to share their experiences and problems. Senator Thom Tillis argues that it is currently impossible to achieve a universal solution to this problem. However, any steps, even the smallest ones, will play a significant role in preventing the spread of suicide among veterans and soldiers.
Pruitt, L. D., Smolenski, D. J., Bush, N. E., Tucker, J., Issa, F., Hoyt, T. V., & Reger, M. A. (2019). Suicide in the military: Understanding rates and risk factors across the United States’ armed forces. Military Medicine, 184(1), 432-437. Web.
Ringer, F. B., Soberay, K. A., Rogers, M. L., Hagan, C. R., Chu, C., Schneider, M., Podlogar, M. C., Witte, T., Holm-Denoma, J., Plant, E. A., Gutierrez, P. M., & Joiner, T. E. (2018). Initial validation of brief measures of suicide risk factors: Common data elements used by the Military Suicide Research Consortium. Psychological Assessment, 30(6), 767–778. Web.
Soldier and veteran suicide prevention [Video]. 2019. C-Span.
Stanley, I. H., Rogers, M. L., Hanson, J. E., Gutierrez, P. M., & Joiner, T. E. (2019). PTSD symptom clusters and suicide attempts among high-risk military service members: A three-month prospective investigation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 87(1), 67. Web.