One of the most difficult things for a caregiver to deal with after a suicide attempt is obtaining postvention or aftercare. VA protocol says you should receive contact within 24 hours, but this happens more in theory than in practice. We know of cases where an SPC has not returned a call after six weeks, even with intervening advocacy calls. We cannot know the full statistics, but we sincerely hope this is an exception rather than the rule for most at-risk veterans.
If you view a suicide attempt as a “disaster”, then perhaps you’ll relate to the paragraph below requiring contingency planning at the USDA for a rabbit. Don’t our veterans deserve to have an operational after-care plan from the VA after a suicide attempt “disaster”? Or even a combined caregiver/VA care-team plan? Here’s the link to the article from the Washington Post http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-07-16/politics/40610671_1_rabbit-magician-u-s-department.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working hard to ensure that Americans have safe food to eat. The latest case is that of a children's magician in Missouri, who received a letter from the USDA requiring him to develop an emergency evacuation plan. For his rabbit. "I just received an 8 page letter from the USDA," he said, "telling me that by July 29 I need to have in place a written disaster plan, detailing all the steps I would take to help get my rabbit through a disaster, such as a tornado, fire, flood, etc.," and "what I will do after the disaster, to make sure my rabbit gets cared for properly." (italics added).
Let's show better postvention care of our veterans who are taking their own lives every 65 minutes - every day. Let's support and care for the family members who bear heavy loads and are also at-risk. Each life is so complex, with no one solution, but with an average of 25 suicide attempts before a completion - that's a LOT of room for help, support, and a new perspective on living.
Linda Kreter & the VeteranCaregiver Team