WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today it is partnering with OnStar’s emergency services to improve access to suicide prevention resources for Veterans.
This partnership will offer Veterans in crisis the opportunity to be transferred to around-the-clock, confidential support via VA’s Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) when they use the emergency services button in an OnStar-equipped vehicle or OnStar Guardian smartphone app.
“The VA-OnStar partnership aims to promote suicide prevention and reduce deaths by suicide by providing additional resources to Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This partnership will help Veterans access suicide prevention support services and assistance directly and immediately. More than 400 VA suicide prevention coordinators and their teams, located at every VA medical center, connect Veterans with care and educate the community about suicide prevention programs and resources daily.”
An average of 20 Veterans die by suicide each day. Through this partnership, VA and OnStar, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors, will collaborate to provide education and training to VA clinicians and OnStar call center staff to facilitate suicide prevention efforts for Veterans. Additionally, VA will provide resources and education to OnStar about military culture and how to determine if a caller is a Veteran.
“OnStar services are designed to help our customers go out into the world feeling safer, and we recognize that for many people, and in particular Veterans, a crisis can start from within,” said Catherine Bishop, senior global emergency services manager for OnStar. “This partnership with VA allows our emergency-certified advisors to better serve the heroes who have served us.”
Suicide prevention is a top priority and VA has made great strides in Veteran suicide prevention, especially in crisis intervention. Partnerships such as this are coordinated by the Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Community Engagement.