Understanding suicide among female veterans

A theory-driven approach

Authored by: Lindsey L. Monteith , Ryan Holliday , Diana P. Brostow , Claire A. Hoffmire

The Routledge International Handbook of Military Psychology and Mental Health

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367237066
eBook ISBN: 9780429281266
Adobe ISBN:


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Female veterans are at elevated risk for dying by suicide compared to female civilians. Yet understanding of processes that place female veterans at risk for suicide remains limited. An epidemiological advance in knowledge of suicide among female veterans has revealed important subgroup differences and changes over time regarding age and receipt of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) care. Research on factors associated with suicide in female veterans, which has typically has been exploratory and theoretical, has largely focused on psychiatric diagnoses and stressful and traumatic events. This limits understanding of suicide among female veterans, as well as knowledge of modifiable risk and protective factors for suicide in this population. Applying current theories of suicide may help to address this. The Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide, Fluid Vulnerability Theory, Three-Step Theory, Cultural Model of Suicide, and Minority Stress Model may be relevant for understanding why female veterans who experience certain types of traumatic events or mental health experiences are at heightened risk for suicide. These theories also provide insight into previously understudied domains among female veterans. Nonetheless, given the paucity of theory-driven suicide research with female veterans, research is needed to determine optimal theories to better understand and prevent suicide among female veterans.

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