A large scale national study of VA patients found that nearly 14% have considered suicide. The study is available online and will appear in the June issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders.
The study analyzed the responses of 2,157 veterans who participated in the National Health and Resilience Veterans Study (NHRVS), which gathered responses in 2011 (Wave 1) and again in 2013 (Wave 2). Veterans completed measures assessing suicidal ideation (SI), sociodemographic characteristics, and potential risk and protective correlates. The National Center for PTSD provided funding for NHRVS.
According to the authors, while most veterans (86.3%) did not have SI onset at any point, 8.8% had SI in either Wave 1 or 2 and 4.9% had chronic SI with SI indicated at both waves. Other key findings of the research include:
- Medical and psychological comorbidities increase the risk of chronic suicidal ideation.
- Social connectedness was protective for remitted and onset, but not chronic SI.
- Bolstering protective factors may help mitigate risk for SI onset in this population.
- Targeting risk factors, including both physical and mental health, remains important in treating veterans with chonic SI.
Noelle Smith, PhD, was the lead author for the study. When the research was conducted Dr. Smith was with the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, National Center for PTSD, and Yale School of Medicine, all in New Haven. She is currently at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital and the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, both in Tampa, Florida.