BUFFALO, N.Y. — Diana Patton is one of the more than a million Americans who attempt to take their own lives every year.
“It was when I was losing everything. I was losing friends. I lost my house. I lost my wife,” said Patton.
Diana had just come out as transgender. And that, combined with PTSD from her military service, exacerbated the situation.
“Because of the discrimination we face and the stigma we face with everything, it’s very difficult to get help,” said Patton.
Erie County Veterans Service Agency Director David Shenk said, “They see that as a weakness, and that’s why they choose not to seek out services, and I think that’s because of the nature of their military experience.”
Veterans are twice as likely as the general public to attempt suicide. Some 41 percent of transgender people have tried to take their own lives at least once.
Recent data shows the majority of people who committed suicide weren’t receiving any care for the underlying issues that led to attempt or commit suicide.
“When we talk about prevention efforts, that’s where we continue to increase our focus, to see how can we partner, work with families, community members, other large systems to make sure that we’re really doing whatever we can," said Jill Murray, behavioral health services manager with the VA. "There is, I’d say in the last five years here, very strong initiatives to make sure that we do have staff that are trained in those spe cific needs to make sure our treatment really meets those needs."
“I started with getting an LGBT rep. Get me established in a new apartment," Patton said. "They checked on me every three months, got me involved in crisis services and also helped me become a stronger advocate.”
The CDC reports that 80 to 90 percent of people who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully. Advocates say as difficult as reaching out can be, it’s an important first step on the road to healing.
If you need help, the local 24/7 suicide prevention hotline is 716-834-3131.