Suicide Prevention Efforts
The Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services, in partnership with the New Hampshire National Guard, the NH Suicide Prevention Council, other NH State Departments and community providers throughout the state have committed to preventing suicide among Service Members, Veterans and their families.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report (2019), the suicide rate among Veterans is 1.5 times greater than the non-Veteran population, with over 6,000 veterans dying by suicide each year. Despite accounting for just 7.9% of the population, Veterans account for 13.5% of all suicide deaths in the United States.
According to a 2018 National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) report and analysis released by the NH Medical Examiner’s Office, a total of 123 deaths by suicide occurred among military-affiliated individuals in New Hampshire during the three year period spanning 2015-2017. This is equivalent to an average of 41 military-affiliated suicide deaths per year which is higher than the national average.
There is no single cause of Veteran and military suicide, but by treating and preventing mental health and substance use conditions, addressing access to lethal means (firearms accounted for 69.4% of Veteran suicides in 2017), and empowering Veterans to live and thrive in their communities, we can save lives.
Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and Their Families
In 2018, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) partnered to advance the strategic implementation of suicide prevention policies and practices for Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF). New Hampshire was selected as 1 of 7 states to participate in the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and Their Families. Between November 2018 – July 2019, a multi-disciplinary team of 30+ professionals, Service Members and Veterans worked to create a strategic plan for New Hampshire that included best-practices outlined by the VA’s National Strategy for Preventing Veterans Suicide.
In order to ensure sustainability of the work started by the Governor’s Challenge team, the team and its work was absorbed into the NH Suicide Prevention Council beginning in August 2019.
NH Suicide Prevention Council Military & Veteran Committee
As per NH RSA 126-R, the New Hampshire Council on Suicide Prevention (SPC) is charged with the oversight of the implementation of a New Hampshire Suicide Prevention Plan [2016-2020 Plan provided for reference in the sidebar). The purpose of the council is to ensure the continued effectiveness of the plan by evaluating its implementation, producing progress reports, and recommending program changes, initiatives, funding opportunities, and new priorities to update the plan. The Council releases an Annual Suicide Report (provided for reference).
The NH Suicide Prevention Council holds meetings that are open to the public 6x/year in Concord, NH. The Council consists of the following committees: Communication, Data Collection & Analysis, First Responders (formerly Law Enforcement), Military & Veterans, Public Policy and Survivors of Suicide Loss.
For more information on the NH Suicide Prevention Council:
Russell S. Conte, Chair, State Suicide Prevention Council
New Hampshire State Police
Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator
Office: (603) 223-8506
NA 213th Session
1st Vice President, NAMI NH Board of Directors
Chair, State Suicide Prevention Council
Suicide Prevention Council (SPC) - Military & Veterans Committee
The SPC - Military & Veterans Committee holds meetings the 1st Wednesday of every month, 2pm-3:30pm. Guests and new members are welcome! Meetings are held at NH Hospital Association, 125 Airport Rd, Concord, NH. A call-in number and Webex meeting link are available for remote participants. Since March 2020, the Committee has been meeting virtually due to COVID-19. The Action Plan and meeting minutes of the SPC - Military & Veterans Committee are provided for reference.
For more information on the NH Suicide Prevention Council - Military & Veterans Committee:
Amy Cook, Co-Chair, SPC - Military & Veterans
Division of Community Based Military Programs
Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services
Beth Alves, Co-Chair, SPC—Military & Veterans
Suicide Prevention Coordinator
Manchester VA Medical Center
(603) 624-4366 x2150