Richmond Accepts the First Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families

Video: Mayor speaks about the Challenge 
Mayor Levar Stoney recently accepted the First Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families (SMVF). The Mayor’s Challenge is a strategic process to help communities develop, implement and measure comprehensive suicide prevention efforts. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) host the Mayor’s Challenge at the Federal level. Richmond is one of just eight cities including Albuquerque, NM; Billings, MT; Helena, MT; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; and Phoenix, AZ participating. These first eight cities completed a Policy Academy held in Washington, DC on March 14 - 16, 2018. 

“This is an excellent goal for the City of Richmond and an important opportunity for our city to support our active duty military and veterans,” said Mayor Stoney. “To be one of just eight cities selected in the country and the only locality in Virginia allows Richmond to be a leader in the fight to prevent these tragic loses,” said Mayor Stoney.

This week, Mayor Stoney met with the River City Warriors, an interagency team of federal, state and local partners working to prevent suicide among military service members and veterans in Richmond and Central Virginia. With technical assistance provided by the VA, SAMHSA and SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans and their Families Technical Assistance Center, the River City Warriors’ “Richmond team” developed a strategic action plan to reduce suicides using a comprehensive public health approach. With a commitment to action steps such as “implement asking the question ‘Have you ever served’” and “develop consistent suicide prevention media messaging,” Richmond is leading the way for additional localities in the Commonwealth to join in the challenge.

For more information on the Mayor’s Challenge, please contact Brandi Jancaitis at (540) 558-8415

For information on health and wellness resources in Richmond and Central Virginia including suicide prevention, or view SAMHSA’s suicide prevention efforts. 

Click here to read more about veteran suicide.

Military Service Members or Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide – and those who know someone in crisis – can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Call (800) 273-8255 and press 1, chat online at or text to 838255.