Did rand alumni take swipe at veterans advocate over suicide story

In the article, the current senior fellow at Center for a New American Security provided a critique about reporting on veteran suicides. She calls on VA to spend its millions on “pundits” and “influences” to combat the Col. Jim Turner suicide story and to educate reporters about how to do their job reporting on such tragic events before the end of the year – – I guess she wants VA to cut a check for millions… today.

Newspaper coverage in Canada and New Zealand often follows established guidelines on reporting, but the US has seen a negative trend in the quality of reporting on suicide. Stories like the one in this link do not adhere to multiple recommendations for reporting on suicide that have been developed by experts specifically to decrease the likelihood of copycat suicides, which is particularly concerning given that the suicide rate in the veteran population is twice that in the civilian sector.

Rajeev Ramchand, Senior Vice President for Research at the Cohen Veterans Network (and my former colleague at RAND, where he did extensive work on military and veteran suicide), told me, “From a public health suicide prevention standpoint, we want to see reporters adhere to guidelines. It’s difficult in today’s competitive media landscape, but while sensationalistic coverage may draw readers in, it puts those who are vulnerable at risk.”

Personally, I found her overall critique to be rather pedestrian. Further, her conclusory coverage of the issue, in itself, seems to be an attempt to “manipulate [] the truth of a story” by pointing fingers away from her former employer, RAND, and the vendors who stand to profit from both organizations. (We view RAND as a taxpayer-funded generator of propaganda, at least some of the time.)

Instead, she appealed to the authority of RAND without diving into the actual allegation concerning the specific breaches of suicide reporting suggestions, which in itself is a form of propaganda, when addressing my website. Further, the topic of the article suggests mainstream press is responsible for unsafe suicide reporting… to then highlight my blog.

Basically, the RAND approach literally believes reporting like mine is not “safe” and even “sensational,” but who really benefits from any manipulation in this instance? I find relevant topics to write about every day, and VA is never short of some scandal of one kind or another to write about – – people read my website regardless of the topic to stay informed.

It honestly seems that there are millions of people that tongue-wag sentiments about caring for the welfare of U.S. Military Veterans, and I do get it that many haven’t a clue about what can be done to ease the stress borne by way too many in today’s world. But, in disguising falsehoods in a very public way is surely not helping the situation. IMO, that is precisely what Ms. Williams is wanting every press release on the subject to conform to… minus reality, of course.

There is NO sensible reasoning I can pull together, to put a stamp of “That’s Brilliant!”, on the constant “If ya wanna kill yourself” recordings we are FORCED to hear at every extension related to VHA, mainly because NO ONE will answer the phone so an appointment or cancellation/reschedule can be made. Leave a message you may suggest… that is also completely ignored, with written admonitions to follow.

You say you are a long time supporter of Ben’s blog, well I can safely assume you have read many comments related to the articles provided here. If you are among those who passionately care about veteran’s dilemmas with VA/VBA/VHA then please use your keyboard to help bring some common sense to this board that will assist in answering positively to this massive monopolistic and very expensive problem known as the VA.

IF I were to contemplate suicide I certainly wouldn’t call the VA. The VA has a lot to do with veterans considering it in the first place and most of it is either attributed to 1) Feeling abandoned immediately after getting off active duty and not being in the VA system to turn for mental health help. 2) Not being able to talk with someone reasonable once finally getting into the VA system 3) The current suicide support system in place is a total fail as the VA will call the local police and have the veteran detained for 72 hours which just pisses them off. 4) The suicide recordings in the VA phone system indicating to call a different number if you’re suicidal is a complete joke because few who are suicidal are ready with pen and paper to take a number call someone else.

Apps, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are the communication outlets these days. It should be a 2 click process to help. Articles written by journalists will do little. A veteran in dire straits doesn’t subscribe to the daily paper anymore. Our best communication is veteran to veteran online. But the VA money machine wants to do closed door contracts that get nowhere. We’re not turning to the subsidized veteran organizations like VFW or DAV. We’re turning to online veteran groups that answer our questions which are spied upon by the VA to extract info about us. When we’re screaming out in those groups we’re not receiving adequate care and we’re feeling abandoned, sick or lonely and stuck in our homes and would feel better having a safe zone..that’s where a suicide assist belongs… not on the VA med center phone constant recordings about suicide when we’re getting appointments or med refills.