White House Wants to Know How Tech Can Help Prevent Veteran Suicides

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The Office of Science and Technology Policy is asking for the public to weigh in on its veteran suicide prevention strategy.

The White House is asking for public insight on how to reduce increasingly high rates of suicide among America’s veterans and how to better leverage technology across its prevention efforts. 

“Reducing the rate of suicide in the veteran population will require an innovative, concerted approach to public health, with wide stakeholder input,” the administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy said in a request for information launched Tuesday. “The Federal government alone cannot address these challenges.”

Research suggests suicide claims the lives of an estimated 45,000 Americans–including 6,000 veterans–each year. In March, the president signed an executive order directing the development of a “roadmap to empower veterans and end the national tragedy of suicide,” which includes the production of a national strategy to advance efforts around reducing veteran suicides through coordination and integration across many areas of research. 

This RFI is meant to inform that national research strategy, which OSTP will develop in collaboration with VA.   

The office wants the nation’s research and development community to weigh in on how to get better at spotting vets who are at higher risk of suicide and effective practices that are promising for prevention. 

OSTP places a strong emphasis on how technology can boost the effort. Many of the questions posed distinctly focus on how tech can be utilized to augment prevention, such as:  “How should we draw upon technology to capture and use health data from non-clinical settings to advance behavioral and mental health research to the extent practicable?” 

OSTP also questions how federal data, such as that from the Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research informatics system, could best be used to provide new insights into trauma and which types of datasets could be vital to advance research efforts. 

And, as the office previously mentioned, the government can’t do it alone—so OSTP wants input on how it can create a public-private collaboration model to accelerate its research efforts. 

Responses to the RFI will be accepted until July 15.