Veterans Suffer Harmful Outcomes of Depression, Suicide
Know the Signs to Better Support Your Residents
With the number of affordable housing properties that serve older adults, many AASC members may work with veterans at some point in their careers. As you serve this demographic, it’s important to understand factors that could come into play with a service member's mental health.
While not all veterans experience it, depression is the leading mental health condition in the military. Being separated from loved ones and witnessing violence during combat increase the risk of depressive symptoms in veterans.
Suicide rates among veterans are 1.5 times higher than the general population and it’s estimated that 20 veterans die per day by suicide, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Some veterans might not seek treatment for mental health due to negative stigmas and fear of interfering with their healthcare benefits as former military personnel.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs identified risk factors that could be present in suicidal veterans to be aware of, including stressors, low cholesterol, insomnia, mental health conditions, substance misuse and excessive drinking.
Be mindful of the warning signs of suicide, like mood swings, anger, increased alcohol use, self-destructive behaviors, and saying they have no reason to live.
Suicide prevention at your property will need to be a multi-faceted approach to educate, identify and connect those who are at increased risk of depression and suicide.
Service coordinators can connect veterans with mental health providers, develop programs that foster connection with peers, and identify barriers that could get in the way of their long-term healing.
It’s also important for veterans, especially those suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, to keep weapons locked away to ensure safe storage. Veterans can contact their local VA Center to learn how they can get a free gun lock.