Late Breaking News
Suicide Attempts Increase Veterans’ Risk of Dying from All Causes, Study Finds
Philadelphia - Veterans who have attempted to kill themselves suffer elevated risks of mortality from all causes, not just suicide, according to a recent study. And the problem is not likely to improve anytime soon: The study cited research showing that troops returning from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have a greater suicide risk than veterans of past wars.
The retrospective cohort study, conducted by a team of researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, represents the largest follow-up of people who have attempted suicide among any group in the United States and is the only one looking solely at veteran suicide. It was published last month in BMC Public Health.
According to current estimates, 18 veterans take their own lives each day, a statistic that figured prominently in a recent case, Veterans for Common Sense vs. Eric K. Shinseki, in which the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that veterans may look to the courts to seek relief from their claims that VA has failed to provide them timely mental health care.
The University of Pennsylvania study looked at all military veterans receiving inpatient treatment at VA facilities between 1993 and 1998 following a suicide attempt. During that timeframe, 10,163 veterans were treated and discharged by VA following a suicide attempt. Case files showed a high prevalence of diagnosed alcohol disorder or abuse (31.8%), drug abuse or dependence (21.8%), psychoses (21.2%), depression (18.5%), and hypertension (14.2%). (See related article, Improved Schizophrenia Control May Be Essential in Reducing VA Suicide Rate)
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