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Suicide mortality and related behavior following calls to the Veterans Crisis Line by Veterans Health Administration patients.
Hannemann CM, Katz IR, McCarthy ME, Hughes GJ, McKeon R, McCarthy JF. Suicide mortality and related behavior following calls to the Veterans Crisis Line by Veterans Health Administration patients. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior. 2021 Jun 1; 51(3):596-605.
To assess outcomes for Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients following calls to the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL).
158,927 VHA patients had an initial VCL call in 2010-2015 with documented identifiers. Multivariable proportional hazards regressions assessed risks of suicide and suicide-related behavior through 12 months. Covariates included age, sex, region, mental health encounters in the prior year, time of day, weekday/weekend status, call outcome, and responder determination of caller risk.
Annualized suicide rates per 100,000 within 1, 3, 6, and 12 months were 797, 520, 387, and 298, respectively. Average age was 49.9 (SD = 15.2), 86.5% were male, 68.6% received mental health encounters in the prior year, and 5.9% had calls categorized as at high risk. Adjusting for covariates, suicide risk was greater among male callers and those with calls categorized as at high or moderate risk.
Veterans Crisis Line serves a high-risk population at a critical time. Rates were particularly high within one month and remained substantially elevated through 12 months. Findings have directly informed ongoing efforts to enhance coordination between VCL and VHA to support suicide prevention.