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Key findings for all veterans seen in depression and suicide study
Date:10/30/2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich. The largest and most up-to-date study of suicides among depressed veterans provides important new data that may help guide screening and treatment for all veterans.

Published online today (Oct. 30), the study finds that the predictors of suicide among veterans in depression treatment differ from those seen in the general American population, with younger, white, non-Hispanic men having the highest risk among the veterans.

Veterans with substance abuse issues, and those who had been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons in the year before their depression diagnosis, also had a higher suicide risk. Surprisingly, older veterans who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in addition to depression had a lower overall rate of suicide than those without a PTSD diagnosis, perhaps because they were more likely to receive care through Veterans Affairs PTSD programs.

Though the study did not directly compare populations of veterans and non-veterans receiving treatment for depression, the study does confirm that suicide rates were very high among depressed VA patients during the study period of 1999 to 2004, reinforcing the need for the VAs recent initiatives to prevent suicide.

The study, conducted by researchers from the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the University of Michigan Health System and U-M Depression Center, will appear in the December American Journal of Public Health issue focused on veterans issues.

The researchers analyzed comprehensive data from 807,694 veterans of all ages diagnosed with depression and treated at any Veterans Affairs facility nationwide between 1999 and 2004. The data are from the VAs National Registry for Depression, developed and maintained by the Serious Mental Illness Treatment Research and Evaluation Center at the VA Ann Arbors Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence.

In all, the researchers found that 1,683 of the
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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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