As we’ve written about on many occasions, the suicide rate among veterans is staggering. But the VA has formed a partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health to study veteran suicides with the goal of preventing them. This partnership plans to accomplish this by way of an algorithm they designed to screen veterans’ health records for risk of suicide.
The algorithm was formed based on Veterans Health Administration documents dating from 2009-2011, records from the National Death Index and other suicide predictor data, including 3180 veteran suicide instances and over 1 million control cases. It will supplement the current protocol to flag veterans during clinical evaluations with more thorough data, hoping to prevent the two-thirds of suicides that clinical evaluations miss.
Ideally, the new process will identify focused groups of high-risk veterans and deliver custom-tailored prevention services. Representatives from the VA and National Institute of Mental Health hope these algorithms can also eventually be implemented to identify civilian groups at high risk for suicide, as well.
The rate of suicides among veterans is over 50% higher than the civilian rates due to the fact that they often deal with lingering memories of combat, anxiety, depression and other service-connected conditions that impact their quality of life.
If you or a veteran you know are experiencing severe depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, we encourage you to contact the confidential Veterans Crisis Line by visiting www.veteranscrisisline.net or by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.