“We’re afraid to say suicide”: Stigma as a barrier to implementing a community-based suicide prevention program for rural veterans
Monteith, L.L., Smith, N.B., Holliday, R., Dorsey Holliman, B.A., LoFaro, C.T., & Mohatt, N.V.
Suicide is a significant public health concern for veterans residing in rural communities. Although various initiatives have been implemented to prevent suicide among veterans, efforts specific to rural veterans remain limited. To aid such efforts, we examined stigma as a potential barrier to community readiness in the implementation of a community-based suicide prevention program for rural veterans. In this qualitative study, community readiness interviews were conducted with 13 participants in a rural community. Themes included lack of awareness regarding veteran suicide, rare discussions of veteran suicide, and suicide-related stigma within the community. Results suggest that prioritizing destigmatization may be particularly important to implementing community-based suicide prevention programming in rural communities. In particular, addressing community misconceptions regarding veteran suicide, while increasing knowledge of the extent to which veteran suicide occurs locally may facilitate increased awareness and thus community readiness to prevent suicide among rural veterans.