The Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families

Background

The secretary of the federal housing department certified Austin in 2016 as the third major city in Texas to virtually end veteran homelessness. While we continue to work tirelessly on this front to maintain that virtual zero, housing is only one battle in the war to empower veterans. According to the VA, the suicide rate for this demographic is nearly 1.5 times that of non-veteran adults nationally.Mayor Adler accepted an invitation in 2018 from the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and US Veteran Affairs (VA) to be among seven cities to launch the Mayors’ Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families (SMVF). He appointed a team of leaders in Austin’s health care, higher education, and emergency response to develop a strong safety net of services to this community.

The goal of the Mayors Challenge is threefold.
• Reduce suicides among SMVF using a public health approach
• Increase knowledge about the challenges and lessons learned from different strategies
• Employ evidence-based practices to reduce suicide deaths and attempts

Participating Organizations

Austin Community College
Austin Fire Department
Austin Police Department
Austin Public Health
Austin Vet Center
Catholic Charities of Central Texas
Cedar Crest Hospital
Central Health
Central Texas Veterans Services Coalition
City of Austin
Combined Arms
CommUnity Care
Institute for Military and Veteran Family Wellness
Integral Care
Lock Arms for Life
Mental Health America of Texas
Military Veteran Peer Network
Positive Recovery Centers
Professional Contract Services, Inc (PCSI)
Samaritan Center
Texas Gun Sense
Texas Health and Human Services
Texas Veterans Commission
TexVet
Travis County Criminal Justice Division
University of Texas Institute for Military & Veteran Family Wellness
Veterans Mental Health Department

Subcommittees

Subcommittee groups divide the CDC strategies for suicide prevention.

The Promoting Connectedness subcommittee takes the goals of:
Promote connectedness
Strengthen economic supports
Teach coping and problem-solving skills

The Strengthening Access subcommittee takes the goals of:
Strengthen access and delivery of suicide care
Create protective environments
Identify and support people at risk
Lessen harms and prevent future risk