Trump to lay out ‘road map’ to prevent veteran suicides
President Trump will lay out a “road map” for preventing suicide among American veterans during a White House address on Wednesday.
The road map calls for 10 recommendations, including a national public health messaging campaign around suicide, changes to how research on veteran suicide is conducted and suicide prevention training across professions, according to senior administration officials.
Trump is scheduled to deliver remarks laying out the plan in the East Room Wednesday afternoon and will be accompanied by Vice President Pence. The plan, which officials say stretches 60 pages, is expected to be released later in the day.
The Trump administration plans to launch a public messaging campaign to raise awareness about suicide in the coming weeks, officials said, drawing on one of the recommendations.
“In order to succeed in any of this work, we have to change the culture of mental health and specifically around suicide,” a senior administration official told reporters on a call previewing the plan. “Within the veterans community, but also more broadly.”
“This campaign will educate Americans about risk factors, about protective factors and will also dispel many of the myths that currently exist, that have always existed, around suicide,” the official continued.
Veterans are especially vulnerable to suicide when compared to the general population. The Department of Veterans Affairs says that veterans have a suicide rate that is 1.5 times higher than nonveteran adults.
The senior administration official told reporters Wednesday that the United States has seen an increase of more than 30 percent in suicide rates over the past 25 years. Officials also expressed concerns that suicides would increase amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 117,000 Americans and has had a devastating impact on the U.S. economy.
The road map was mandated by an executive order Trump signed into law in March 2019 that set up a task force to develop strategies to lower veteran suicide and improve research while making legislative proposals to Congress calling for additional resources needed to combat veteran suicide.
Officials plan to work to implement the recommendations over the next two years. They signaled that the task force would be working to address the legislative component of the order in the coming year.
Trump has enjoyed broad support among veterans and military voters and has sought to highlight his administration’s work to address issues specific to veterans. However, Trump has recently endured criticism from high-profile former military officials over his handling of protests against police brutality and racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
–This report was updated at 11:15 a.m.