Murphy announces new effort to combat suicide among veterans, active service members

Gov. Phil Murphy and a host of state officials used Veterans Day as the backdrop to announce the Governor’s Challenge to prevent suicide among service members, veterans and their families.

This initiative establishes a partnership between the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Department of Human Services, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, with the goal of preventing suicide among New Jersey’s veterans.

State officials said the efforts will advance the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide by enhancing and aligning local and statewide suicide prevention efforts. The New Jersey Department of Health and Department of Children and Families are additional partners in the initiative, providing expertise and guidance for the effort.

The objectives of the challenge include:

  • Convening a state interagency military and civilian team of leaders to develop an implementation plan to prevent suicide among veterans;
  • Implementing promising, best and evidence-based practices to prevent and reduce suicide;
  • Engaging with city, county and state stakeholders to enhance and align local and statewide suicide prevention efforts;
  • Increasing knowledge about the challenges and lessons learned in implementing best policies and practices by using state-to-state and community-to-community sharing;
  • Defining and measuring success, including defining assignments, deadlines and measurable outcomes to be reported.

Suicide prevention line

Need help? The state’s suicide prevention hotline, 855-654-6735, is open 24/7. “No matter what you’re going through or feeling, you are not alone — we are here to listen,” Sarah Adelman, acting commissioner of the Department of Human Services, said.

“New Jersey’s veterans and service members are a source of immense pride for our state,” Murphy said. “This initiative recognizes the struggles that many of our bravest men and women face and will engage all aspects of government in meeting the challenge of preventing and reducing suicides.”

Murphy was joined at the announcement by Brig. Gen. Dr. Lisa Hou, the adjutant general of New Jersey and commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and Sarah Adelman, the acting commissioner of the Department of Human Services.