The effects of misclassification biases on veteran suicide rate estimates

Nathalie Huguet, Mark S. Kaplan, Bentson H. McFarland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objectives: We assessed the impact that possible veteran suicide misclassification biases (i.e., inaccuracy in ascertainment of veteran status on the death certificate and misclassification of suicide as other manner of death) have on veteran suicide rate estimates. Methods: We obtained suicide mortality data from the 2003-2010 National Violent Death Reporting System and the 2003-2010 Department of Defense Casualty Analysis System. We derived population estimates from the 2003-2010 American Community Survey and 2003-2010 Department of Veterans Affairs data. We computed veteran and nonveteran suicide rates. Results: The results showed that suicide rates were minimally affected by the adjustment for the misclassification of current military personnel suicides as veterans. Moreover, combining suicides and deaths by injury of undetermined intent did not alter the conclusions. Conclusions: The National Violent Death Reporting System is a valid surveillance system for veteran suicide. However, more than half of younger (< 25 years) male and female suicides, labeled as veterans, were likely to have been current military personnel at the time of their death and misclassified on the death certificate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-155
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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