THE SUICIDE PREVENTION OFFICER PLAN & PROGRAM
Originated by Glenn Towery
On or about July 20, 2016, at the DAV Texas Department State Convention incoming Texas State DAV Commander, Charles Edwards appointed Glenn Towery the First Suicide Prevention Officer (SPO) in American history.
Due to pressure from the department of Texas Executive Committee his appointment was rescinded without comment less than a month later, but not before Glenn had fulfilled his obligation and wrote out the plan of operation for the DAV “National Suicide Prevention Program that could be adopted by the 5 or 6 largest Veterans Service Organizations in America, the VFW, AMERICAN LEGION, AMVETS, DAV, Military Order Of The Purple Heart and NABVETS. Resolutions for the program are presently in committee for the Texas Department of the VFW and the Texas Department of the American Legion.
An SPO Program like the plan that Glenn Towery authored was also being thought about by a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Charles Eggleston. It was the outreach of Mr. Wilbert Forbes, VSPChannel board of directors member and former deputy director of the Department of Veterans Affairs of the state of Maryland, that made Eggleston aware of the Towery SPO Program and plan. After reviewing the VSPChannel plan the MOPH leadership was also made aware. A resolution was authored for the plan at the MOPH by Towery. The advocacy of Mr. Forbes and this resolution and plan led to the appointment of Mr. Charles Eggleston as the first National Suicide Prevention Awareness Officer in American history of the Military Order of the Purple Heart organization and created a partnership between the two that continues to blossom everyday. The MOPH adopted portions of Towery’s plan combined with their own and is in the process of instituting their suicide Prevention, Intervention and Awareness program, for their members nationwide.
Recently the national NABVETS organization (http://nabvets.org/) adopted the SPO Plan Program after voting to adopt a Towery resolution for the creation of an SPO Program in their organization.
The SPO Program plan is a simple one. Provide Suicide Prevention and Intervention techniques to the members of these prospective organizations and create, local, state department and national reporting to determine the size and the scope of the suicide incidents in each of their prospective organization. The plan is free. Glenn has never asked for any financial consideration for adopting and using this plan whole or in part. Below is the SPO Plan & Program created for national VSO’s by Glenn Towery. If you like it ask your organization about adopting it today:
THE SPO PLAN & PROGRAM
NATIONAL Suicide Prevention Officer Responsibilities
The National Suicide Prevention Officer for your organization will be responsible for providing the concept of service and institutional guidelines for the performance of duties of all Suicide Prevention Officers. The National Suicide Prevention Officer will be charged with monitoring of the administration of the programs operation that all Suicide Prevention Officers that serve, state, district and local posts or chapters and will observe and follow the operation of the plan as adopted by its organization. The National Suicide Prevention Officer will administer all information pertinent to their office including:
- Initiate and maintain a Suicide Prevention program throughout the organization nationwide and supervise as well as maintain a contact list of all Suicide Prevention Officers and their chapters throughout the organization.
- Maintain records of suicides reported to them throughout the organization and report them to the National Commander bi-yearly creating actionable statistical information.
- Create provisions for training of all Suicide Prevention Officers in suicide crisis management
- Create, review and communicate all procedures to be used by all MOPH Suicide Prevention
- Preside over an annual review of Suicide Prevention Officers duties and implement adjustments and changes in policy where needed.
- Work to create accurate statistics as it regards suicide within the MOPH organization locally
and nationwide presently and going back at least 3 years.
- Provide an annual written report to the National Commander and MOPH adjutant regarding
Suicide within the ranks of the MOPH organization with recommendations as to how to decrease them.
- Create legislation and lobby congress with bills that are designed to alleviate suicide
ideation among veterans and their family members and provide relief in areas that are designated as problem areas.
- Emphasize to all Suicide Prevention Officers that family is the first line of defense in preventing veteran suicide and create a campaign designed to make family members of veterans caring reporters when there is suicide ideation.
Duties of Suicide Preventions Officers for LOCAL VSO’s
- Provide Referral for members who may be experiencing Suicide Ideation to local therapists, psychologists, veterans mental health personnel and groups at Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. Refer members to the 24 hour a day, 7 day a week Veterans Suicide Prevention Channel (vspchannel) as well as other sources.
- Receive and give training in suicide crisis management and vet to vet counseling in order to assist veterans who may be in crisis as it regards suicide prevention. (Suicide Prevention Officers should refer veterans to professionals whenever possible.)
- Provide and maintain local referral information in chapters, posts, blogs and MOPH websites regarding the signs of suicide ideation and ways to remedy them.
- Provide pamphlets, worksheets and other written information regarding veteran suicides and options for veterans and their family members in all local MOPH posts and chapters.
- Report all Suicides that occur within the chapter or post to the National Suicide Prevention Officer.
- Create a liaison with local Service Officers and provide options for counseling for MOPH Service Officers clients who report suicide ideation for members who may be denied a VA claim after applying to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Create and circulate questionnaires among members as it regards past suicides going back 3 years while providing an outlet for any family member to make a confidential contact if they believe their veteran family member may be experiencing suicide ideation.
- Make certain that a veterans family receives adequate after care in the event that their veteran family member does commit suicide.
- Create and attend when possible seminars and meetings for Suicide Prevention Officers.