Suicide Risk Documented During Veterans' Last Veterans Affairs Health Care Contacts Prior to Suicide

Lauren M. Denneson, Anne E. Kovas, Peter C. Britton, Mark S. Kaplan, Bentson McFarland, Steven K. Dobscha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

A total of 295 veterans who died by suicide in 2009 across 11 states and received Veterans Affairs (VA) health care in the 6 months prior to death were identified. The suicide risk factors documented and the care received at these veterans' last VA contacts are described, and the study explores whether veterans present differently to VA care (i.e., different risk factors documented or different care settings accessed) based on the proximity of their last contact to suicide. Many veterans were seen in primary care (n = 136; 46%) for routine follow-up (n = 168; 57%). Fifty-three (18%) were assessed for suicidal thoughts; 20 (38%) of whom endorsed such thoughts. Although higher frequencies of some risk factors at last contacts more proximal to suicide compared to those more distal were observed, findings overall highlight the challenges clinicians face detecting enhanced risk prior to suicide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-374
Number of pages12
JournalSuicide & life-threatening behavior
Volume46
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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