Preventing suicide among LGBT Veterans


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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.

“Treatment works and recovery is possible.”

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. Seek help early.

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 thmselves 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 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.

Check out these additional resources:

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 and research in your inbox. Sign up for email updates.


About the author:  This article was submitted to VAntage Point by the VHA Women’s Health Services and LGBT Health Program Office.

 

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Clifford Shoemaker    

    You (redacted) deserve castigation and hardship!

  2. Stan Skaggs    

    Its too bad that a form of mental illness is held above that of veterans. Shameful.

  3. Bernard C. Menge    

    Why are these people so important ? When are you going to support religious people ? They can have problems too. I am a Viet Nam veteran and because I have never tried to kill myself I have never had anyone in this organization offer to talk to me about my feelings on this subject until recently. This group of people has no different symptoms then regular people. why do they need special treatment compared to others. Being in the service did not make them have different sexual feelings. The service had nothing to do with it. They do not need any special; treatment. Get a life and handle service related problems and not sexual choices. -If a regular service person has marital problems because of spouse sexual relations, are you going to help them? These is not what this organization was established for.

    I am sorry but an individuals sexual preferences should be handled by them and not society. They would not enjoy me telling them that they have to come and help me if I have any problems in my life because I am a Roman Catholic. And you would never tell them that I have to. I do not think it is right that a government taxpayer organization should do this.
    This is not only shameful but unequal to other people with normal sexual preferences. Stop this kind of thing in do what you are supposed to do.

  4. Richard L. Hilbert    

    Thanks for Your Concern for Those who are experiencing “No Hope” in this traumatic World !! LIVING WATERS .COM, a CHRISTIAN MINISTRY has produced a short film that addresses those undergoing stress, despair and a feeling of failure. It can be viewed by Health professionals, and victims of Depression at “THE EXIT MOVIE.COM” It can become a “Life Changing’ Event !! ,

  5. Pocahantas    

    I was wondering who estimated that there were 1 million lgbt veterans… Could you cite a source.

  6. Maurice Chevalier    

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR OUTSTANDING COMMENT. Although there was no mention of costs involved, it shuld be noted. There are hundreds of thousands of “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans (BWNVV), who have been turned down for Med. care & Disability Comp., whose Claims have been denied based on a “Rule ” change that was made because – it was determined that it would be TOO COSTLY.

  7. David McCuistion    

    Research into the reason for LGBT suicide will show you that their propensity toward it is related to their un-natural decision to be gay, which runs counter to the Natural Law of human beings, and not their experiences as a veteran. Service-connected disabilities are as a result of arduous and physically demanding careers in the military service to their country, and the choices we made regarding our military service – NOT because someone chooses to be of the LGBT lifestyle.

    I sympathize with their situation and decision to be gay, which most likely is their reasoning for taking their life. The focus needs to be on the problem associated with their lifestyle choices.

  8. Bill Goodwin    

    Gross. I didn’t think I could possibly hate the VA any more, but then I read this article.

  9. Delta Rae    

    Good thing my VA doctor ignored me when i scheduled an appointment solely to talk about depression treatments, and miserably failed the depression and ptsd intake screenings. Suicide prevention isn’t anywhere near the alignment of priorities of the VA.

  10. Walter Beach    

    It’s very sad that the military has to even accept these people. Vietnam Vets didn’t put up with it, our poor marines shouldn’t have to today. There are so many vets that really do need care from combat stress, not from losing a boyfriend/ girlfriend.

  11. John Shook    

    Where is your data generated? Show some effort to validate it and put it into perspective: x number of LGBT of total vet population. How was projection made> I don’t buy this as accurate. No wonder everyone is concerned about fake news. Most is just lousy and lazy reporting. Put some effort into what you print or post!

  12. X-abian M. Jahi    

    Personally, I feel the Black Vets deserve more concerns, should be at the front of the line–for once. “Gay” acceptance is a choice. Being Black and continually discriminated against in every arena, is not. This whole “lgbtq” agenda seems to be another SCAM to keep from recognizing the unrewarded successes, world domination, enslaved Afrikans brought here; unrewarded, to this day. A-A-‘s should even be Repatriated to Afrika before Mexicans to the South. Blacks are being tactically and systemically dysfunctioned, exterminated.

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