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Ascertainment of Patient Suicides by Veterans Affairs Facilities and Associations With Veteran, Clinical, and Suicide Characteristics.
Palframan KM, Szymanski BR, McCarthy JF. Ascertainment of Patient Suicides by Veterans Affairs Facilities and Associations With Veteran, Clinical, and Suicide Characteristics. [Editorial]. American journal of public health. 2021 Jul 1; 111(S2):S116-S125.
To evaluate the sensitivity of health care facility documentation of suicide deaths among US veterans with recent Veterans Health Administration (VHA) care and assess variation in identification by veteran, clinical, and suicide death characteristics. Cross-sectional analyses included 11 148 veterans who died by suicide in 2013 to 2017, per National Death Index death certificate information, with VHA encounters in the year of death or the previous year. Facility suicide ascertainment was assessed per site reports in the VHA Suicide Prevention Applications Network. Bivariate and multivariable analyses assessed ascertainment by decedent demographic, clinical, utilization, and method of suicide characteristics. Site reports identified 3667 suicide decedents (32.9%). Veteran suicide decedents identified by facilities were more likely to be younger and with clinical risk factors and more recent VHA encounters. Suicide deaths involving poisoning were less likely to be identified than deaths involving other methods. VHA facility ascertainment of suicide deaths among recent patients was neither comprehensive nor representative. Findings will inform efforts to enhance facility suicide surveillance and veteran suicide prevention.