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Phoenix Aims to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their FamiliesPhoenix Aims to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families<div class="ExternalClass054372B327E042B898F6005BFB983209">PHOENIX – The City of Phoenix has formed an interagency team of military and civilian leaders from the city and state to develop a strategic plan to increase support and reduce suicide among service members, veterans and their families.<br><br>The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are sponsoring the initiative, called the Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families. <br><br>SAMHSA and the VA identified Phoenix as one of the cities that could lead the way nationally in the first year of the Mayor’s Challenge.  <br><br>“As a community, we must do our part to offer help and support for the men and women who have or continue to serve our country, as well as their families, who also make sacrifices,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “Developing a cohesive, strategic response plan will help us work together to know the warning signs and intervene before it’s too late.” <br><br>“Preventing suicides among service members, veterans and their families by developing a strategic action plan for our community is key to supporting those who have given so much to our country,” said Councilwoman Thelda Williams. “One suicide is too many; I look forward to the positive outcomes from the Mayor’s Challenge.” <br><br>In Arizona, the suicide rate for veterans is 54.8 per 100,000 people, with Maricopa County’s rate at 54.4, according to the Arizona Violent Death Reporting System — both much higher than the national average of 38, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.<br><br>Arizona currently has a state-wide plan for suicide prevention (called Be Connected). But while several agencies have their own models or response plans, a need still exists to develop a unified plan on a local level. Through the Mayor’s Challenge, key organizations and partners will work together to bust silos and develop a cohesive action plan for suicide prevention. <br><br>“Using Be Connected, we’re already providing suicide prevention support for Arizona’s veterans and their families through early intervention,” said Retired Air Force Col. Wanda Wright, Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services Director. “With the Mayor’s Challenge, our interagency team will expand our reach throughout Phoenix and prove how effective the collaborative community approach can be.” <br><br>The 21-member interagency team, led by Col. Wright, consists of individuals from the Phoenix Mayor’s Office, Council District 1, Police Department, Fire Department, Prosecutor’s Office, Human Services Department, Military Veterans Commission, along with the director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Guard, AHCCCS, Crisis Response Network, Community Bridges, Inc., and the Arizona Coalition for Military Families.  <br><br>Members of the Mayor’s Challenge will travel to Washington, D.C., March 14-16, 2018, to learn about public health policy and receive assistance from SAMHSA representatives and other federal partners, subject matter experts and staff from the Service Members, Veterans and their Families Technical Assistance Center.<br><br>In the weeks and months following the trip, the interagency team will continue to develop their plan, measure outcomes, and submit reports to the Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance Center.<br><br>The goal is to develop a strategic plan to implement best practices and define success indicators that ultimately can reduce suicides among veterans, service members, and their families. <br></div>2/28/2018 7:20:00 PMRaquel Estupinan(602) 261-8823