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Parson joins military, veteran suicide prevention challenge


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson agreed to join this year’s Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families.

“Although Missouri has already begun to implement suicide prevention efforts, participation in this initiative will allow us to further implement best policies and practices and advance our suicide prevention efforts for service members, veterans, their families, and all Missourians,” Parson said. 

The challenge is a partnership between the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and is designed to help states implement suicide prevention practices from the VA and guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Governors take the lead in coordinating efforts to apply guidance throughout the state.  

The challenge involves creating interagency teams to develop plans to implement VA’s National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide, provide technical assistance to communities and groups, and collaborate between agencies and sectors to meet goals and deadlines. Teams work through policy and implementation models on increasing access to support and services, identifying priorities, and sharing data and information between different departments and sectors. 

The state assembled a team as part of the challenge, including members from the departments of Mental Health, Higher Education and Workforce Development, and Social Services, in addition to the University of Missouri — St. Louis, St. Louis VA System of Care, and other community providers. The team also includes Sen. Greg Razer and Rep. Nick Schroer this year.

The challenge was first launched in 2019. The Mayor’s Challenge, a version focused on local community leaders, was first initiated in 2017.

Missouri is one of eight states selected to take part in this year’s challenge, according to the Department of Mental Health.