Date of this Version
Journal of Affective Disorders 130 (2011) 231–238; doi:10.1016/j.jad.2010.10.021
Background: The purpose of this projectwas to examine factors associated with suicidal ideation in returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
Methods: A cross-sectional review of 1740 veterans' initial mental health screening evaluations. One-hundred and thirteen (6.5%) OEF/OIF veterans reported active suicidal ideation at the time of the interview.
Results: Prior exposures of physical or sexual abuse and having a history of a prior suicide attempt(s) were associated with the presence of current suicidal ideation, as were having a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder, a depressive disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Deployment concerns related to training (protective), the deployment environment, family concerns, deployment concerns, post-deployment support (protective), and postdeployment stressors were also associated with current suicidal ideation. Logistic regression analysis revealed the major risk factors were having a prior suicide attempt, female gender, and a depressive disorder diagnosis; while more perceived current social support was a protective factor. Logistic regression analysis also revealed having comorbid PTSD and depression carried a higher odds ratio for risk than did having either PTSD or depression alone; and that the PTSD avoidance symptom-cluster was associated with more risk than either the re-experiencing or hyper-arousal symptom clusters for current suicidal ideation.
Limitations: As a cross-sectional retrospective medical chart review, limitations include limited generalizability and causal relationships cannot be evaluated.
Conclusions: Further investigation of these risk factors is warranted to aid in suicide risk assessment and in the development of targeted interventions to mitigate the identified risk factors and bolster the identified protective factor.