Suicide risk and precipitating circumstances among young, middle-aged, and older male veterans

Mark S. Kaplan, Bentson H. McFarland, Nathalie Huguet, Marcia Valenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the risk of suicide among veteran men relative to nonveteran men by age and to examine the prevalence of suicide circumstances among male veterans in different age groups (18-34, 35- 44, 45-64, and ≥ 65 years). Methods: Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (2003-2008) were used to calculate age-specific suicide rates for veterans (n = 8440) and nonveterans (n = 21 668) and to calculate the age-stratified mortality ratio for veterans. Multiple logistic regression was used to compare health status, stressful life events preceding suicide, and means of death among young, middle-aged, and older veterans. Results. Veterans were at higher risk for suicide compared with nonveterans in all age groups except the oldest. Mental health, substance abuse, and financial and relationship problems were more common in younger than in older veteran suicide decedents, whereas health problems were more prevalent in the older veterans. Most male veterans used firearms for suicide, and nearly all elderly veterans did so. Conclusions: Our study highlighted heightened risk of suicide in male veterans compared with nonveterans. Within the veteran population, suicide might be influenced by different precipitating factors at various stages of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S131-S137
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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