Mark Kaplan, M.P.H., Dr.P.H., Portland State University
Distinguished Investigator Grant (2008): $85,000
Suicide among Military Veterans: Analysis of the National Violent Death Reporting System
Abstract: The goal of this research is to help explain why veterans in the general population have elevated rates of suicide, using data available through the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). The NVDRS is a surveillance system now operating in 17 states that was established by the Centers for Disease Control in 2002 to gather information on deaths by suicide and other violent means. In this study, the investigators will compare 4,231 veterans and 13,748 non-veterans who died by suicide between 2003-2005. These groups will be stratified by age, gender and race/ethnicity, and then compared on such variables as socioeconomic characteristics, substance use, mental health factors and life events to identify key differences that could account for differences in suicide rates. A unique aspect of the research will involve determining a “suicide score” for each individual, which represents a weighted average of suicide risk factors including past suicide attempts, history of mental disorder and history of misuse of alcohol and other drugs. By helping to illuminate the particular vulnerabilities of veterans and the circumstances surrounding their suicide deaths, the investigators hope to inform the design and implementation of suicide prevention programs for military veterans.
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