246718 Differences between Veteran suicides with and without psychiatric symptoms

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 11:10 AM

Peter Britton, PhD , VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, Canandaigua VA Medical Center, Canandaigua, NY
Mark Ilgen, PhD , VISN 11 Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation, Ann Arbor VA Medical Center, Ann Arbor, MI
Marcia Valenstein, MD, MS , Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Kerry L. Knox, PhD , Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Cynthia Claassen, PhD , Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX
Kenneth Conner, PsyD , Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
This study examined all suicides (N=423) in two geographic areas of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) over a 7-year period, and performed detailed chart reviews on the subsample who had a VHA visit in the last year of life (N=384). Within this sample, we compared a group with one or more documented psychiatric symptoms (68.5%) to a group with no such symptoms (31.5%). The groups were compared on suicidal thoughts and behaviors, somatic symptoms, and stressors using Chi-square tests, and on time to death after the last visit using survival analyses. Veterans with documented psychiatric symptoms were more likely to receive a suicide risk assessment, and have suicidal ideation and a suicide plan, sleep problems, pain, and several stressors. These Veterans also died more quickly following their last visit. Findings indicate presence of two large and distinct groups of Veterans at risk for suicide in the VHA, underscoring the value of tailored prevention strategies including approaches suitable for those without identified psychiatric symptoms.

Learning Areas:
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe differences between Veteran suicides with and without psychiatric symptoms. 2. Discuss the potential importance of a public health approach to suicide prevention for Veterans. 3. Explain the potential benefits of increased mental health screening for Veterans.

Keywords: Veterans, Suicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a suicide research who work for the VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention at the Canandaugua VA Medical Center.
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.