Female veterans are two to five times more likely to commit suicide than civilian women. NPR host David Green spoke with women dedicating their lives to curb this number. They have heard the stories first-hand from women who have served their country and experienced the hardships involved in transitioning from working combat to civilian life that most people cannot understand. (“Rate of Suicide Among Female Veterans Climbs, VA Says,” NPR, April 25, 2017)
These hardships can manifest in a variety of ways, and are often very frightening.
“She had her weapon and barricaded herself in the bathroom, would not leave, and had a loaded gun and said she was going to kill herself,” said Letrice Titus, an Army veteran working for the Department of Veteran Affairs Crisis Line. “And I told her no, because you’re going to live today, so there’s no need to say goodbye, you know, and let’s just focus on you staying safe.”
According to Titus, women call with issues similar to those of men: post-traumatic stress disorder, financial stress, loneliness and depression. However, a number of issues are unique to women.
Military sexual trauma too often goes unreported because of potential damage to the victim’s reputation and possible sanctions if the incident is not validated. As a result, certain traumas go unresolved and are ultimately repressed.
The problem is compounded because many VA clinics are less inviting to women than men, and when they are welcomed, they find they’re the only female in a group therapy session.
“I think that that’s really traumatizing when you – you know, you have to live with that the rest of your life, that this happened to me,” said Danielle Simpson, who also works at the Crisis Line. “Less traumatic issues can build up, making that transition to civilian life more overwhelming.”
Mental Health First Aid recognizes the unique challenges faced by veterans, which is why we recently created a specific module dedicated to providing the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis within this population. It creates understanding and compassion and helps others engage with veterans and service members to support and help them get help to rebuild their lives.
With Mental Health First Aid, veterans can learn the skills to recognize what to say and what to do for someone experiencing a mental health crisis. Because anyone, anywhere, can be the one to make a difference. Learn how.