209245 Military Veteran and Non-Veteran Suicides in Wisconsin, 2001-2007

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 8:30 AM

Amy E. Schlotthauer, MPH , Injury Research Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Background: Suicide rates among military veterans have had recent national attention. Examining how veteran and non-veteran suicides differ may inform prevention strategies for this high-risk group.

Methods: Demographic, circumstantial and toxicology data from the Violent Injury Reporting System (2001-2003) and the Wisconsin Violent Death Reporting System (2004-2007) were analyzed to compare suicides of veterans and non-veterans.

Results: During 2001-2007, 4621 suicides occurred in Wisconsin. Twenty percent (n=941) of these had veteran status, with no significant trends identified. Veterans were significantly older than non-veterans (57.3 vs. 40.7, p<0.0005) and were more often married (46% vs. 31%, p<0.0005). Firearms were used more often by veterans as compared to non-veterans (63% vs. 43%, p<0.0005). Significantly more non-veterans were tested for alcohol (75% vs. 61%, p<0.0005) and antidepressants (58% vs. 46%, p<0.0005); however, the percentage testing positive was not significantly different for either (alcohol: 31% vs. 32%, p=0.464; antidepressants: 25% vs. 20%, p=0.026). While both groups reported similar percentages for current depressed mood (65% vs. 64%, p=0.638); more non-veterans were noted as having a current mental health problem (45% vs. 39%, p=0.001). Similarly, more non-veterans were currently in treatment (38% vs. 30%, p<0.0005) or had ever been in treatment (47% vs. 37%, p>0.0005) for a mental health problem and were more likely to have a history of attempts than veterans (26% vs. 17%, p<0.0005).

Discussion: Significant differences exist between veteran and non-veteran suicides. Prevention strategies may include training families on the signs of suicide, means restriction, and increased mental health screening and treatment.

Learning Objectives:
Describe differences in rates of attempted and completed suicide in military veterans versus non-veterans. Discuss how demographic variables between veterans and non-veterans who complete suicides differ. Differentiate between how variables including mental health history, mental health treatment history, and suicide method differ between those veterans and non-veterans who completed suicide. Analyze how these differences may inform suicide prevention and intervention efforts.

Keywords: Veterans, Injury Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: not applicable

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have served as the evaluator for the Wisconsin Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention program for the past year and a half and have done epidemiologic work on violent death during this time. I have my Masters in Public Health from Emory University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.