PORTLAND, OR -- New research conducted in Oregon suggests a YouTube video could be a useful suicide prevention tool for the veteran community. Dr. Alan Teo, an OHSU psychiatry professor and a researcher at the Portland VA, says the short video helped friends and family have difficult conversations with veterans about suicide.
"This is not the hallelujah moment, yet. This is a spark," says Dr. Teo. "Suicide is a complex problem, a complex behavior. And so, training the public and training loved ones is part of that. Does it solve it all? No. But there is no one thing that’s going to solve suicide. It requires mental health resources, it requires training - like we studied, it requires novel therapeutics or medication or other types of treatment to help reduce risk."
Researchers used social media to recruit people close to military vets to watch the "VA S.A.V.E." training on YouTube. Dr. Teo says it worked for two reasons, "It was specifically tailored and designed to the veteran community - Training that doesn’t resonate with a person is a training that’s not going to work. And then, number two, it was brief. And by brief, I mean, it was 24 minutes total."
Success was measured by participants’ willingness to talk about suicide with an at-risk vet, their comfort level and desire to share the video. "We’re not ready to sort of unveil it to the whole world and say this is a solution," Teo tells KBND News, "However, we are ready to scale up and test this on a wider scale." VA S.A.V.E. is already being used to train non-clinical VA staff.
Suicide rates among veterans consistently exceed the civilian population.
If you or someone you know is struggling, call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.