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Editor's e-Note
Last month we paid special attention to honoring the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans. The ultimate sacrifice is giving one’s life to protect our freedoms. However, the sacrifice of one’s life sometimes happens in another way as veterans with severe depression, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury take their lives or attempt to take their lives. The rise in suicides among veterans has been in the news recently and in this month’s E-News Exclusive, a social work professor reviews the narratives of those who have attempted suicide and how social workers can respond in helping to develop strengths-based supports.

We welcome your comments at Visit our website, including our new Peer Perspectives section, at; like our Facebook page; and follow us on Twitter.

— Marianne Mallon, editor
e-News Exclusive
Developing Strengths-Based Supports:
Countering Suicidal Behaviors in Military Veterans

By Valerie L. Dripchak, PhD, LCSW

The news media have informed us about the staggering number of military veterans who are taking their own lives. In January 2015, The Los Angeles Times reported that the suicide rate is approximately 50% higher in military veterans than in people with similar demographics who never served in the military. An equally startling statistic: The suicide rate for recent veterans who never went to Afghanistan or Iraq was about 16% higher than those who did so, suggesting that the perils of war may not be a factor in all cases.

A June 2015 article in The Los Angeles Times noted that while the suicide rate generally is lower in females, female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women; the rate is approaching that of male veterans. These statistics become more relevant, as soldiers, prior to the 9/11 attacks, had lower rates of suicide as compared with the general population.

Although suicide is a multidimensional phenomenon and lacks a single etiology, these complexities remain a key issue for social workers.

Full Story »
Other News
VA Investigation Shows Long Waits, Cancelled Appointments
Contributed to Distress of Veterans Who Committed Suicide

USA Today reports that a VA investigation has shown that poor services including long waits, cancelled appointments, and no follow-up have contributed to distress of veterans who have committed suicide.

New Fathers May Experience Postpartum Depression
According to The New York Times, research outcomes are adding physiological weight to the argument that postpartum depression isn’t limited to women.

Teenage Depression and Suicide Rise
Linked to Increased Smartphone Use

The Washington Post reports that a researcher has found that smartphone use and depression increase in tandem, and time spent online also was linked to mental health issues across two different data sets.

Experts Say Connecting Mental Illness to Mass Shootings Is Misguided
According to NBCNews, health experts say that connecting mental illness to mass shootings “highlight[s] Americans’ desire to reaffirm a stigmatization of the mentally ill as ‘ticking time bombs’ to avoid more difficult conversations about gun violence.”
Tech & Tools
Big Data Resources for Public Health

Although studies and surveys have shown that using information technology to analyze Big Health datasets and guide public health decisions can improve health equity, the majority of community health center leaders and staff report receiving little to no training in health informatics.

At the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health shared a training protocol designed to remedy this gap and be replicated nationwide.

“There is so much information collected by community health centers, health departments, hospitals, and other public health services—ranging from vaccination records to blood pressure screenings—that could give us insights about the public health needs of a community,” according to Elizabeth Van Nostrand, JD, associate director for law and policy in Pitt Public Health’s Center for Public Health Practice. “But it can be difficult for these types of health agencies, which often provide a safety net for the nation’s most vulnerable populations, to make this data work for them and the people they serve. That’s where we hope to help.”

Read more »
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