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Psychiatr Serv. 2018 Aug 1;69(8):935-937. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2018 Apr 2.

Addressing Veteran Homelessness to Prevent Veteran Suicides.

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Dr. Tsai and Dr. Pietrzak are with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven. They are also with the Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven. Dr. Trevisan is with VA New England Healthcare System, Bedford, Massachusetts, and with the Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven. Mr. Huang is with the Department of Psychology, University of Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut.


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is shifting its focus from ending veteran homelessness to preventing veteran suicides. With supporting data, this Open Forum argues that VA homelessness services also help address veteran suicides. Analysis of a nationally representative survey of U.S. veterans in 2015 shows that veterans with a history of homelessness attempted suicide in the previous two years at a rate >5.0 times higher compared with veterans without a history of homelessness (6.9% versus 1.2%), and their rates of two-week suicidal ideation were 2.5 times higher (19.8% versus 7.4%). Because the majority of veterans who die by suicide are not engaged in VA care, VA services for the homeless that include outreach efforts to engage new veterans may be reaching some of these veterans. Thus continued federal support for VA homelessness services not only may help address homelessness but also may help prevent suicide of veterans.


Homeless mentally ill; Homelessness; Suicide & self-destructive behavior; Veterans issues


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