Area native is VA's Suicide Prevention Coordinator
By Vicki ViallRanger-Review Staff WriterTrent Lear, former Glendive resident, has been named the Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Montana Veterans Administration. His appointment was effective March 23 of this year.Lear is originally from Dawson County. He attended school in Richey and graduated in 1982.He worked in Glendive at the Glendive Medical Center from 2002-2011. He began at Glendive Medical Center as the Clinical Director of Behavioral Therapies. By the time he departed GMC, he was Vice President of Organizational Development. Though his current office is located in Helena at Fort Harrison, he will be travelling throughout the area to all of Montana’s VA Clinics in the near future. “So far, I have visited the clinics in Kalispell, Missoula and Billings. I will be in Glendive for the military stand down on Sept. 13,” Lear said.He hit the deck running by training his staff and the staffs of the clinics he oversees to “not be afraid to ask the question. Ask if they need help.”All calls through the Montana VA Crisis hotline asking for a suicide consult are directed to Lear’s phone. He, and his assistant, Tracey Zachman, screen every call he receives. Zachman is an registered nurse and trained to deal with such calls.Lear said the calls come in at a fairly steady rate.Lear stated that his approach to this job is to begin with research. The military environment is so unique that he wants to understand why that suicide rate is so much higher than the civilian rate.To understand the difference in those rates, he provided some numbers.In 2010, in the general population, there were 12.4 suicides per every 100,000 people. In the military, that number was 24.8 per 100,000. By 2012, the numbers for the civilian population had actually gone down to 12 suicides per 100,000 people. The military numbers, broken down a bit differently, were 12.5 suicides for active duty personnel per 100,000 people, 19 suicides for combined active duty and reserve per 100,000 people and 36 veteran suicides per 100,000.That is in line with Lear’s comment that “the group that the VA considers the highest risk group is made up of Korean War and World War II Vets.”This is why he has issued the mandate to every clinic, every department and every staff member: ask the question “Are you okay?”For military and their families residing in Dawson county, Lear shared that the VA Outpatient Clinic in Miles City offers both mental health and physical health treatment to. Lastly, Trent wants to reiterate to everyone, “do not be afraid to ask the question. Ask if someone is okay. Do not be afraid to ask if they are considering suicide.”Veterans, write this number down and keep it where it can be found quickly: 1-800-273-8255 Press 1.Vicki Viall can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.