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Evaluation of Prevention Efforts and Risk Factors Among Veteran Suicide Decedents Who Died by Firearm.

Ammerman BA, Reger MA. Evaluation of Prevention Efforts and Risk Factors Among Veteran Suicide Decedents Who Died by Firearm. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior. 2020 Jun 1; 50(3):679-687.

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OBJECTIVE: Veterans die by suicide at a higher rate than the U.S. population, and veterans more frequently use a firearm as the suicide method. Consequently, firearm accessibility and storage represent important prevention considerations. This project aimed to explore the implementation of suicide prevention efforts among veterans who went on to die by suicide, with and without the use of a firearm, and to identify factors that differentiated veteran suicide decedents to help inform suicide prevention efforts. METHODS: Data from the Veteran Health Administration Behavior Health Autopsy Program was analyzed for 97 veteran suicide decedents. RESULTS: Results demonstrated that veterans who used a firearm for suicide were less likely to have engaged in suicide prevention efforts overall and were less likely to have received lethal means safety counseling / safety planning. Veterans who died by firearm had lower levels of notable risk factors (e.g., prior suicide attempt, no-shows for appointments), however were more likely to have a documented unsecured firearm in their home. CONCLUSION: These findings support the benefit of broadening the reach of suicide prevention efforts, especially for high-risk veterans with access to firearms.

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