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Suicide prevention program begins for veterans in Oklahoma

AARON MONTOYA/U.S. AIR FORCE ILLUSTRATION

By MARK HUGHES | Muskogee Phoenix, Okla. | Published: April 12, 2017

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (Tribune News Service) — A new program that should help reduce veterans at risk for suicide along with other adverse outcomes has been implemented at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.

Suicide Prevention Coordinator Patricia Parmeter said the program is called Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health — Veterans Enhanced Treatment. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs took all the clinical and administrative data for every veteran for the last two years and created a predictive model, Parmeter said.

That means 380 risk and protective factors are fed into the computer program to help identify “at risk” veterans, she said.

“The model identifies approximately five patients in the top .01 percent and 50 patients in the top .1 percent at any given time,” Parmeter said.

This number will vary per facility based on size as well as geographic region.

This month, Parmeter received the names of 37 local veterans who fell into this predictive model. She receives a new list every month.

The veterans’ providers review their charts and using clinical data, diagnoses, treatment, history, mental health conditions and risk factors is scheduled to see their provider within two weeks. Meanwhile, the veteran is contacted to make sure they have access to all the care they need, Parmeter said. Transportation to medical appointments and grief counseling, when appropriate, are even discussed with the veteran.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ priority is preventing suicide, Parmeter said. Approximately 45 percent of veterans dying by suicide nationwide visited a primary care provider and had no history of mental health treatment.

The 2014 suicide rate by Oklahoma veterans exceed the national rate, according to John Wilson, the Veterans Mental Health Program administrator for the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

The rate of death by suicide nationwide is 12.9 per 100,000 and in Oklahoma 18.7 per 100,000. Of those Oklahomans who lost their lives to suicide, 23 percent served in the military.

Information

Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-825 and press 1; chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text to 838255.

Reach Mark Hughes at mhughes@muskogeephoenix.com.

©2017 the Muskogee Phoenix (Muskogee, Okla.)
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