A campaign created by the Trump administration is reaching out to veterans and Americans who are feeling suicidal. Houses of worship are also being encouraged to collaborate by spreading the message amongst its members.
In a recent interview with CBN News, the Second Lady of the United States, Karen Pence, discussed her role as an ambassador in the PREVENT effort. PREVENT stands for “President's Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide.”
President Trump signed an executive order concerning PREVENT last March as a means to empower veterans and stop them from committing suicide.
“PREVENTS seeks to change the culture surrounding mental health and suicide prevention through enhanced community integration, prioritized research activities, and implementation strategies that emphasize improved overall health and well-being,” the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states.
"I saw my role as a way to say, let's end the stigma, and let's start the conversation," Pence told CBN News Chief Political Analyst David Brody. "Everybody has risk factors for suicide, every single one of us."
More than 47,000 people commit suicide each year in the U.S., and more than 6,000 are veterans. Each day, about 20 veterans commit suicide. According to CBN News, the rate of suicide among veterans is two times higher than the rate among the general population.
PREVENT also established REACH, a public health campaign that is geared towards suicide presentation among veterans and Americans.
"There's help for our veterans, there's help for Americans," Pence asserted. "We actually have things we're putting into place. We want people to talk to each other, and part of talking to each other and reaching out is sharing your faith."
In a special event last weekend, the initiative urged faith communities in incorporating the topic of suicide prevention in their sermons and bulletins. Additionally, its members were encouraged to sign a pledge to create further awareness.
She added, "The research supports that there is a connection between people having an involvement in their faith community and having less opportunity or less desire to commit suicide."
"One of the main points involved in the REACH campaign is letting people know their risk factors and one of the risk factors right now is isolation," Pence said.
"All of us are dealing with some kind of anxiety or pressure or fear, and so what better time to say it's okay to say you're not okay,” she added.
Pence’s team has also been promoting a mental health checklist where people can ask themselves how they are doing, talking to family members, calling the suicide prevention line if needed, and allowing oneself a joyful break.
"What are some things that make you feel happier or kind of calm you down?" she says. "Schedule those into your day, whether it's reading, gardening or cooking, or praying or painting."
Toward the end of the interview, Pence told CBN News that her source of hope comes from God alone.
"Hope really is the key and for me, as you know, I'm a Christian,” she said. “That's where I get my hope."
"I do think that when we're all low, sometimes the only person who's there for me is the Lord," Pence continued. "So when you actually can introduce someone to that aspect and to say, you know what, there is hope, there is hope and there is a way past this struggle that you're in right now."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.