The Corner

VA Suicide Hotlines Abandoned

World Suicide Prevention Week recently came and went invisibly–again. Society these days seems more emotionally investing in facilitating suicides of the ill and disabled than preventing theirs and those of other despairing people.

But preventing the suicides of our military veterans has been one of the few exceptions, with a great deal of time and energy devoted the prevention cause.

Alas, Veterans Administration bureaucrats apparently remain indifferent to the suicide prevention cause with 1/3 of the calls to hotlines going unanswered. From the CBS story:

More than one-third of calls to a suicide hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the hotline’s former director.

Some hotline workers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end, even as crisis calls have increased sharply in recent years, said Greg Hughes, the former director of the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line.

Hughes said in an internal email that some crisis line staffers “spend very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity.” Coverage at the crisis line suffers “because we have staff who routinely request to leave early,” he said.

Is it any wonder people are rapidly losing faith in our institutions?

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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