Suicide Among Veterans in 16 States, 2005 to 2008: Comparisons Between Utilizers and Nonutilizers of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Services Based on Data From the National Death Index, the National Violent Death Reporting System, and VHA Administrative Records.
Katz IR, McCarthy JF, Ignacio RV, Kemp J.
Am J Public Health. 2012 Mar;102 Suppl 1:S105-10.
Objectives. We sought to compare suicide rates among veterans utilizing Veterans Health Administration (VHA) services versus those who did not.Methods. Suicide rates from 2005 to 2008 were estimated for veterans in the 16 states that fully participated in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), using data from the National Death Index, NVDRS, and VHA records. Results. Between 2005 and 2008, veteran suicide rates differed by age and VHA utilization status. Among men aged 30 years and older, suicide rates were consistently higher among VHA utilizers. However, among men younger than 30 years, rates declined significantly among VHA utilizers while increasing among nonutilizers. Over these years, an increasing proportion of male veterans younger than 30 years received VHA services, and these individuals had a rising prevalence of diagnosed mental health conditions. Conclusions.The higher rates of suicide for utilizers of VHA among veteran men aged 30 and older were consistent with previous reports about which veterans utilize VHA services. The increasing rates of mental health conditions in utilizers younger than 30 years suggested that the decreasing relative rates in this group were related to the care provided, rather than to selective enrollment of those at lower risk for suicide.