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Psychiatry Res. 2012 Aug 30;199(1):37-43. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2012.03.029. Epub 2012 Apr 21.

Medical, psychiatric and demographic factors associated with suicidal behavior in homeless veterans.

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  • 1Mental Illness Research, Educational and Clinical Center, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


This study assessed potential for suicidal behaviors associated with sociodemographic, predisposing physical and mental health factors and self-reported psychological problems among homeless veterans in a large northeastern region. Data were obtained from a demographic and clinical history interview conducted with 3595 homeless veterans. Odds-ratio (OR) statistics were used to assess potential for suicidal behavior. Statistically significant ratios were similar for ideation and attempts. The highest ratios were for self-report of depression and difficulty controlling violence, but statistically significant ratios were found for reporting sleeping in a treatment facility the night before the interview, receiving VA support for a psychiatric condition, and the diagnoses of Alcoholism, Mood Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Low but statistically significant odds-ratios were obtained for most of the physical health items. A negative odds-ratio was obtained for African-American ethnicity. Logistic regression results indicated that for ideation and attempts items entered first involved subjective report of trouble controlling violent behavior and experiencing depression. High odds ratios for the interview items concerning experiencing serious depression and having difficulties controlling violence may have strong implications for treatment and management of homeless veterans. There may be up to 14-1 odds that an individual who reports being seriously depressed or having difficulty inhibiting aggression may have a serious potential for suicidal behaviors.

Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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