The Veterans Affairs Department announced Wednesday it will try new technologies—like video conferences and electronic health records—in an attempt to reduce the risk of suicide among veterans, according to The Associated Press.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki made the announcement to mental health professionals Wednesday, saying that in addition to the possible convenience of video appointments, online chat forums and text messages were also becoming a more prevalent tool for suicide prevention.
Earlier this month the AP also reported that suicides were surging among active servicemembers this year, at a rate of almost one every day. The Pentagon statistics referenced said there were 154 active-duty troop suicides in the first 155 days of the year.
The suicide rate among veterans has stayed relatively consistent since 2005, according to the story, which also notes that as many as two-thirds of veterans who commit suicide are not enrolled for care with the VA.
Shinseki has recently received some Congressional criticism regarding the length of time veterans wait before receiving a full evaluation from the VA, according to the story. He said that integrating the electronic health records with the Defense Department could hopefully expedite the possibility of preventative treatment.
That integration is targeted for completion by 2017.
Source: The Associated Press