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Suicide Risk Factors and Risk Assessment Tools: A Systematic Review [Internet]

Suicide Risk Factors and Risk Assessment Tools: A Systematic Review [Internet]

Evidence-based Synthesis Program - Department of Veterans Affairs (US)

Version: March 2012


We identified 14 good quality systematic reviews (reported in 16 publications) of risk assessment tools and risk factors, as well as five primary studies of risk assessment tools and 25 primary studies of risk factors. Risk assessment tools and risk factor primary studies were performed in Veteran and military populations. We examined studies from a limited time period (2005 through November 2011) due to the publication of two systematic reviews with similar scope published in 2004 and 2005.,


Suicide is a major public health concern in the United States (US), claiming over 36,000 lives each year and nearly 100 lives each day, and suicide among military and Veteran populations is of particular concern. Veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, referred to as Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans, may be particularly at risk, although the limited available data has shown mixed results., Several aspects of military experience may increase the risk of suicide, including mental health and substance abuse. Many risk factors specific to the OEF/OIF population have yet to be thoroughly evaluated and incorporated into clinical management.


We reviewed 16,426 titles and abstracts from the electronic search, and an additional 95 from reference mining for a total of 16,521 references. After applying inclusion/exclusion criteria at the abstract level, 15,743 references were excluded. We retrieved 778 full-text articles for further review and another 732 references were excluded. We identified a total of 46 references for inclusion in the current review, including 30 observational studies and 14 systematic reviews (reported in 16 publications). We grouped the studies by key question and study design. Figure 2 details the number of references related to exclusion criteria and publication type.

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