We designed and developed three web-based courses to help VA health clinicians understand suicide risk and prevention strategies for different populations including female Veterans and older Veterans. The courses heighten awareness about circumstances that place patients at risk for suicide. Upon completion of these courses, clinicians will know which resources are available to them and their patients, and will understand how to discuss suicide with a Veteran patient.
The suicide risk profile for Veterans has changed in recent years and these courses needed to address these changes. For example, female Veterans have become closer to combat and more familiar with guns. Also, older Veterans, mostly men, have been identified as unwilling to share feelings and do not want to become burdens (in their own eyes) to their families.
"Women Veterans and Suicide" and "Increase Your Suicide Prevention Skills with Older Veterans" each needed to present clinicians with statistics regarding the challenges these target groups face. Clinicians needed to become familiar with detecting warning signs, understanding preventive techniques and the importance of body language. These courses also required clinicians to adopt new listening and communication skills.
The inclusion of video to support the learning objectives was an integral part of the training. We designed video scenarios showing example real-life interactions between Veteran and clinicians. These scenarios demonstrated how thoughts of suicide can be detected and discussed. The scenario scripts were written with built-in gaps to accommodate narration that provided clues for the visually impaired.
Closed captioning was incorporated as well. These solutions ensured our compliance with Section 508 such that all audiences could get equal benefit from the learning. We oversaw all aspects of video production short of the actual camera work. We auditioned several actors and coached them during the filming.
In order to create a one-hour course from a wealth of incredible content from our subject matter experts, we conducted face-to-face meetings with all experts and guided them through the process of identifying the information crucial to delivering the message.
The final products were scenario-based courses that incorporated the use of video to present valuable information to clinicians about suicide prevention among at-risk Veterans.