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Caine Appointed to Special Panel on Veteran Suicides

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Department of Veterans Affairs has selected Eric Caine, M.D., chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, to serve on a nine-member panel that will recommend ways to improve V.A. programs in suicide prevention, suicide research and suicide education.

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs James B. Peake, M.D., announced the formation of two special panels to address suicide and veterans of the military services.

Experts from several agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, make up the “Blue Ribbon Work Group on Suicide Prevention in the Veterans Population.”

The five-member work group is scheduled to meet from June 11 to June 13, and will develop a report with recommendations for Peake within 15 days of meeting.

Nationally renowned experts in public health suicide programs, suicide research and clinical treatment programs comprise a second panel that will provide professional opinion, interpretation, and conclusions on information and data to the work group. The panel, of which Caine is a member, also will make recommendations to the work group on opportunities for improvement in the VA’s programs.

“I look forward to this process addressing a problem of national concern,” said Caine, who is the John Romano Professor of Psychiatry.

In a unique relationship created last year, more than a dozen faculty members from the Department of Psychiatry have directed programs, conducted research and provided treatment at the new Veterans Administration Center of Excellence in Canandaigua.

Kerry L. Knox, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and of community and preventive medicine at the School of Medicine, is the director of the Center of Excellence.

The goals of the Center of Excellence include reduction of premature death and treatable illnesses in veterans, with special attention to suicide and attempted suicide, post-traumatic stress and related stress disorders, depression, substance abuse, serious mental illness, and the family and social problems that can arise from these difficulties.

“There is nothing more tragic than the death by suicide of even one of the great men or women who have served this nation,” Peake said when he announced the panels Wednesday. “V.A. is committed to doing all we can to improve our understanding of a complicated issue that is also a national concern.”

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