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HSR&D Citation Abstract

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Predictors of a suicide attempt one year after entry into substance use disorder treatment

Ilgen M, Harris A, Moos R, Tiet Q. Predictors of a suicide attempt one year after entry into substance use disorder treatment. Poster session presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2007 Feb 22; Arlington, VA.

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Background: The present study examined the patient intake and treatment-related risk factors associated with a suicide attempt in the thirty days prior to a 1-year post-treatment assessment. Methods: A national sample of 8,807 patients presenting for treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs) in the VA healthcare system were assessed at treatment intake and follow-up. Using the MacArthur Model, risk and protective factors for suicide attempt were identified at baseline and during treatment. Results: At follow-up, 4% (314/8,807) of the patients reported a suicide attempt within the past 30 days. Baseline predictors of a suicide attempt prior to follow-up included elevated suicidal/psychiatric symptoms, more recent problematic alcohol use, and longer duration of cocaine use. Contact with the criminal justice system was a protective factor that reduced the likelihood of a future suicide attempt. Greater engagement in SUD treatment was also associated with a reduction in suicide risk. Conclusions: More involvement in SUD treatment reduced the likelihood of a future suicide attempt in high risk patients. Substance use disorder treatment providers interested in reducing future suicidal behavior may want to concentrate their efforts on identifying at risk individuals and actively engaging these patients in longer treatment episodes.

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