Background: Appropriate after-care for the estimated 1.4 million people with nonfatal suicide attempts each year in the United States is critical, yet little research has focused on recovery needs after an attempt and whether important gender differences in those needs may exist. In this study, we examined gender differences in recovery needs after a suicide attempt among a national sample of women and men veterans.
Methods: We interviewed 25 women and 25 men veterans from Veterans Health Administration health care systems across the country. Purposive sampling was used to obtain a demographically and clinically diverse sample. Transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Results: Although some recovery topics were similar between genders, the participants' primary recovery needs, or goals, differed by gender. Women focused on developing connections with others and wanted to increase their self-knowledge and self-worth. Men were focused on trying to live up to their ideal selves by living and doing "right." Men also wanted to feel like they were needed by others. Both women and men also wanted to feel a stronger sense of purpose in their lives.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that recovery needs among veterans after a nonfatal suicide attempt vary by gender: women may benefit more from psychoeducational approaches in group settings with other women, whereas men may benefit more from approaches that help them focus on making changes in their lives towards becoming their ideal selves.
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