In the Spotlight
Preventing Suicide among LGBT Veterans
Suicide prevention is VA's highest clinical priority. Our most vulnerable Veteran communities, including LGBT Veterans, face some of the biggest obstacles in seeking help. LGBT Veterans experience depression and suicidal ideations at twice the rate of heterosexual Veterans.
Today, it is estimated that one million of our nation's Veterans identify as LGBT. Studies reveal LGBT Veterans accessing VA services were more likely to screen positive for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and alcohol misuse than non-LGBT Veterans. Veterans who could not or did not serve openly in the military or concealed their sexual orientation while in service were associated with higher rates of depression and PTSD.
Suicide is preventable
LGBT Veterans may experience chronic stress from discrimination. This stress is worse for those who need to hide their sexual identity as well as for those who have lost important emotional support because of their sexual orientation. Interpersonal stressors such as a failing or failed relationship have also been associated with increased rates of suicide for both service members and Veterans.
Treatment works and recovery is possible. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, sadness, depression, stress, or any other warning signs of suicide, talk with your VA provider or therapist right away. Ask your VA provider about including mental health as part of your routine care; don't wait until you're in crisis.
Know the warning signs of suicide
Many Veterans may not show any signs of intent to harm themselves before doing so, but some actions can be a sign that a Veteran needs help. Take notice if you or another Veteran is showing signs of anxiety, low self-esteem, and/or hopelessness, such as:
- Appearing sad or depressed most of the time
- Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep Showing rage, anger, or violent behavior
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Increasing alcohol or drug use
- Engaging in high-risk behaviors
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness, failure, excessive guilt or shame,
- Saying loved ones would be better off without them around
- Neglecting personal welfare or deteriorating physical appearance
- Exhibiting behavior that is dramatically different from their normal behavior
VA welcomes all LGBT Veterans
VA welcomes all LGBT Veterans to its facilities to receive high quality, respectful care. VHA personalizes health care to the unique needs of LGBT Veterans and develops and delivers training to VHA staff on LGBT health care.
VA is here to support you
If you or someone you know is in crisis, support is available 24/7. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available to all at 1-800-273-8255. Veterans, Service members, and their families and friends can call the Veterans and Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text 838255.
Visit www.womenshealth.va.gov to access additional information, materials, and resources for women Veterans. Get the latest news on LGBT-focused programs, health studies, policies & research in your inbox. Sign up for email updates.
Created June 5, 2018