VA addresses suicide by gun problem among female veterans

Female veterans

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By Emily Wax-Thibodeaux

Female veterans who try to take their own lives are often successful at a far higher rate than their female non-veteran counterparts because of one reason: They use guns.

Female veterans die by suicide at nearly six times the rate as those with no service record, such an alarming number that mental health experts at the Department of Veterans Affairs say the agency is reaching out to  former servicewomen to talk about gun safety.

The female veterans’ suicide rate is also surprising because men generally are far more likely than women to die by suicide.

“One reason is that female veterans are more comfortable with firearms — it’s part of the culture,” said Caitlin Thompson, VA’s deputy director for suicide prevention.

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