Background: Suicide rates for women veterans are increasing faster than for nonveterans. The 2017 suicide rate for women veterans was more than double that for women nonveterans. However, research to inform improved suicide prevention for women veterans is scant.
Objectives: To accelerate research on women veterans’ unique risks and resiliencies for suicide, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Women’s Health Research Network launched a Women Veterans Suicide Prevention Research Work Group to target technical support for researchers, promote collaboration with national VA program offices, and ultimately increase dissemination and translation of research into clinical practice, public health strategies, and policies. The objective of this paper is to report on the process and outcomes of the Work Group’s strategic planning efforts to identify and fill gaps in suicide prevention research among women veterans.
Methods: An in-person meeting of 20 researchers and operational leaders was convened to summarize existing research evidence and identify research priorities and challenges.
Results: Research priorities included civilian reintegration, community connections, psychosocial stressors (eg, social determinants of health) and trauma, risk assessment, clinical interventions, upstream prevention, and health care access. The importance of increasing evidence on gender differences and for women veterans not using VA health care was emphasized.
Conclusions: Research to inform suicide prevention tailored to meet women veterans’ needs is essential; however, many priorities and challenges remain unaddressed. Although Work Group efforts have achieved funding gains, further work to formalize, promote and meet the demands of a suicide prevention research agenda for women veterans requires is ongoing focus.