Preventing Suicide Among Women Veterans: Gender-Sensitive, Trauma-Informed Conceptualization

Curr Treat Options Psychiatry. 2022;9(3):186-201. doi: 10.1007/s40501-022-00266-2. Epub 2022 Jun 15.


Purpose of review: There is growing concern regarding suicide among women veterans, who have experienced an increase in suicide rates that has exceeded that reported for other US adult populations. Recent research has bolstered understanding of correlates of suicide risk specific to women veterans. Yet most existing suicide prevention initiatives take a gender-neutral, rather than gender-sensitive, approach. We offer clinical considerations and suggestions for suicide prevention tailored to the needs, preferences, and experiences of women veterans. Discussion is framed around the White House strategy for preventing suicide among military service members and veterans.

Recent findings: Considering high rates of trauma exposure among women veterans, we propose that a trauma-informed lens is essential for taking a gender-sensitive approach to suicide prevention with this population. Nonetheless, research to inform evidence-based assessment and intervention remains largely focused on veteran men or gender-neutral. Integral next steps for research are posited.

Summary: Extant research provides an initial foundation for beginning to understand and address suicide among women veterans in a gender-sensitive, trauma-informed manner. Additional research that is specific to women veterans or that examines gender differences is critical to ensure women veterans receive optimal, evidence-based care to prevent suicide.

Keywords: Gender-sensitive; Suicide prevention; Suicide risk assessment; Trauma-informed; Women veterans.

Publication types

  • Review