Suicidal ideation in veterans receiving treatment for opiate dependence

Richard Thompson, Vincent Kane, Joan M. Cook, Robert Greenstein, Patricia Walker, George Woody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Persons with opiate use disorders, especially veterans. have a number of both chronic and acute indicators of risk for suicide, but are not typically screened for suicidal ideation on a routine basis, beyond initial evaluations. One hundred one veterans receiving treatment for opiate dependence at an urban VA medical center were screened for suicidal ideation. Over 24% reported some suicidal ideation. Current ideation was associated with severe chronic pain, ongoing problems with street drugs. firearm ownership, and with having recently enrolled in treatment. It was also associated with a variety of recent negative life events and mental health issues, especially depression, recurring troubling thoughts, hallucinations, loss of jobs, and conflicts with family members. Two veterans endorsing suicidal ideation required immediate hospitalization. The implications of these findings are discussed, and frequent screening for suicidal ideation among patients receiving treatment for opiate dependence is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-156
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of psychoactive drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Opiate
  • Screening
  • Suicide
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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