Predicting suicides after psychiatric hospitalization in US Army soldiers: the Army Study To Assess Risk and rEsilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS).
ABSTRACT: The US Army experienced a sharp increase in soldier suicides beginning in 2004. Administrative data reveal that among those at highest risk are soldiers in the 12 months after inpatient treatment of a psychiatric disorder.To develop an actuarial risk algorithm predicting suicide in the 12 months after US Army soldier inpatient treatment of a psychiatric disorder to target expanded posthospitalization care.There were 53,769 hospitalizations of active duty soldiers from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2009, with International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification psychiatric admission diagnoses. Administrative data available before hospital discharge abstracted from a wide range of data systems (sociodemographic, US Army career, criminal justice, and medical or pharmacy) were used to predict suicides in the subsequent 12 months using machine learning methods (regression trees and penalized regressions) designed to evaluate cross-validated linear, nonlinear, and interactive predictive associations.Suicides of soldiers hospitalized with psychiatric disorders in the 12 months after hospital discharge.Sixty-eight soldiers died by suicide within 12 months of hospital discharge (12.0% of all US Army suicides), equivalent to 263.9 suicides per 100,000 person-years compared with 18.5 suicides per 100,000 person-years in the total US Army. The strongest predictors included sociodemographics (male sex [odds ratio (OR), 7.9; 95% CI, 1.9-32.6] and late age of enlistment [OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.0-3.5]), criminal offenses (verbal violence [OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.2-4.0] and weapons possession [OR, 5.6; 95% CI, 1.7-18.3]), prior suicidality [OR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.7-4.9], aspects of prior psychiatric inpatient and outpatient treatment (eg, number of antidepressant prescriptions filled in the past 12 months [OR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.1-1.7]), and disorders diagnosed during the focal hospitalizations (eg, nonaffective psychosis [OR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.2-7.0]). A total of 52.9% of posthospitalization suicides occurred after the 5% of hospitalizations with highest predicted suicide risk (3824.1 suicides per 100,000 person-years). These highest-risk hospitalizations also accounted for significantly elevated proportions of several other adverse posthospitalization outcomes (unintentional injury deaths, suicide attempts, and subsequent hospitalizations).The high concentration of risk of suicide and other adverse outcomes might justify targeting expanded posthospitalization interventions to soldiers classified as having highest posthospitalization suicide risk, although final determination requires careful consideration of intervention costs, comparative effectiveness, and possible adverse effects.
Project description:The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) is a multicomponent study designed to generate actionable recommendations to reduce Army suicides and increase knowledge of risk and resilience factors for suicidality.To present data on prevalence, trends, and basic sociodemographic and Army experience correlates of suicides and accident deaths among active duty Regular Army soldiers between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2009, and thereby establish a foundation for future Army STARRS investigations.Analysis of trends and predictors of suicide and accident deaths using Army and Department of Defense administrative data systems. Participants were all members of the US Regular Army serving at any time between 2004 and 2009.Death by suicide or accident during active Army service.The suicide rate rose between 2004 and 2009 among never deployed and currently and previously deployed Regular Army soldiers. The accident death rate fell sharply among currently deployed soldiers, remained constant among the previously deployed, and trended upward among the never deployed. Increased suicide risk was associated with being a man (or a woman during deployment), white race/ethnicity, junior enlisted rank, recent demotion, and current or previous deployment. Sociodemographic and Army experience predictors were generally similar for suicides and accident deaths. Time trends in these predictors and in the Army's increased use of accession waivers (which relaxed some qualifications for new soldiers) do not explain the rise in Army suicides.Predictors of Army suicides were largely similar to those reported elsewhere for civilians, although some predictors distinct to Army service emerged that deserve more in-depth analysis. The existence of a time trend in suicide risk among never-deployed soldiers argues indirectly against the view that exposure to combat-related trauma is the exclusive cause of the increase in Army suicides.
Project description:The 2013 US Veterans Administration/Department of Defense Clinical Practice Guidelines (VA/DoD CPG) require comprehensive suicide risk assessments for VA/DoD patients with mental disorders but provide minimal guidance on how to carry out these assessments. Given that clinician-based assessments are not known to be strong predictors of suicide, we investigated whether a precision medicine model using administrative data after outpatient mental health specialty visits could be developed to predict suicides among outpatients. We focused on male nondeployed Regular US Army soldiers because they account for the vast majority of such suicides. Four machine learning classifiers (naive Bayes, random forests, support vector regression and elastic net penalized regression) were explored. Of the Army suicides in 2004-2009, 41.5% occurred among 12.0% of soldiers seen as outpatient by mental health specialists, with risk especially high within 26 weeks of visits. An elastic net classifier with 10-14 predictors optimized sensitivity (45.6% of suicide deaths occurring after the 15% of visits with highest predicted risk). Good model stability was found for a model using 2004-2007 data to predict 2008-2009 suicides, although stability decreased in a model using 2008-2009 data to predict 2010-2012 suicides. The 5% of visits with highest risk included only 0.1% of soldiers (1047.1 suicides/100?000 person-years in the 5 weeks after the visit). This is a high enough concentration of risk to have implications for targeting preventive interventions. An even better model might be developed in the future by including the enriched information on clinician-evaluated suicide risk mandated by the VA/DoD CPG to be recorded.
Project description:Objective: During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, suicidal behaviors increased among U.S. Army soldiers. Although Reserve Component (RC) soldiers (National Guard and Army Reserve) comprise approximately one third of those deployed in support of the wars, few studies have examined suicidal behaviors among these "citizen-soldiers". The objective of this study is to examine suicide attempt risk factors and timing among RC enlisted soldiers. Methods: This longitudinal, retrospective cohort study used individual-level person-month records from Army and Department of Defense administrative data systems to examine socio-demographic, service-related, and mental health predictors of medically documented suicide attempts among enlisted RC soldiers during deployment from 2004-2009. Data were analyzed using discrete-time survival models. Results: A total of 230 enlisted RC soldiers attempted suicide. Overall, the in-theater suicide attempt rate among RC soldiers was 81/100,000 person-years. Risk was highest in the fifth month of deployment (13.8 per 100,000 person-months). Suicide attempts were more likely among soldiers who were women (adjusted odds ratio, aOR = 2.5 [95% CI: 1.8-3.5]), less than high school educated (aOR = 1.8 [95% CI: 1.3-2.5]), in their first 2 years of service (aOR = 2.0 [95% CI: 1.2-3.4]), were currently married (aOR = 2.0 [95% CI: 1.5-2.7]), and had received a mental health diagnosis in the previous month (aOR = 24.7 [95% CI: 17.4-35.0]). Conclusions: Being female, early in service and currently married are associated with increased odds of suicide attempt in RC soldiers. Risk of suicide attempt was greatest at mid deployment. These predictors and the timing of suicide attempt for RC soldiers in-theater are largely consistent with those of deployed Active Component (Regular) soldiers. Results also reinforce and replicate the findings among Active Component soldiers related to the importance of a recent mental health diagnosis and the mid-deployment as a period of enhanced risk.
Project description:Importance:The US Army suicide attempt rate increased sharply during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although soldiers with a prior mental health diagnosis (MH-Dx) are known to be at risk, little is known about risk among those with no history of diagnosis. Objective:To examine risk factors for suicide attempt among soldiers without a previous MH-Dx. Design, Setting, and Participants:In this retrospective longitudinal cohort study using administrative data from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS), person-month records were identified for all active-duty Regular Army enlisted soldiers who had a medically documented suicide attempt from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2009 (n = 9650), and an equal-probability sample of control person-months (n = 153 528). Data analysis in our study was from September 16, 2017, to June 6, 2018. In a stratified sample, it was examined whether risk factors for suicide attempt varied by history of MH-Dx. Main Outcomes and Measures:Suicide attempts were identified using Department of Defense Suicide Event Report records and International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification E95 × diagnostic codes. Mental health diagnoses and related codes, as well as sociodemographic, service-related, physical health care, injury, subjection to crime, crime perpetration, and family violence variables, were constructed from Army personnel, medical, legal, and family services records. Results:Among 9650 enlisted soldiers with a documented suicide attempt (74.8% male), 3507 (36.3%) did not have a previous MH-Dx. Among soldiers with no previous diagnosis, the highest adjusted odds of suicide attempt were for the following: female sex (odds ratio [OR], 2.6; 95% CI, 2.4-2.8), less than high school education (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.8-2.0), first year of service (OR, 6.0; 95% CI, 4.7-7.7), previously deployed (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 2.1-2.8), promotion delayed 2 months or less (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.7-2.6), past-year demotion (OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.3-1.8), 8 or more outpatient physical health care visits in the past 2 months (OR, 3.3; 95% CI, 2.9-3.8), past-month injury-related outpatient (OR, 3.0; 95% CI, 2.8-3.3) and inpatient (OR, 3.8; 95% CI, 2.3-6.3) health care visits, previous combat injury (OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.0-2.4), subjection to minor violent crime (OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1-2.4), major violent crime perpetration (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.3-3.0), and family violence (OR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.9-4.4). Most of these variables were also associated with suicide attempts among soldiers with a previous MH-Dx, although the strength of associations differed. Conclusions and Relevance:Suicide attempt risk among soldiers with unrecognized mental health problems is a significant and important challenge. Administrative records from personnel, medical, legal, and family services systems can assist in identifying soldiers at risk.
Project description:The suicide rate has increased significantly among US Army soldiers over the past decade. Here we report the first results from a large psychological autopsy study using two control groups designed to reveal risk factors for suicide death among soldiers beyond known sociodemographic factors and the presence of suicide ideation.Informants were next-of-kin and Army supervisors for: 135 suicide cases, 137 control soldiers propensity-score-matched on known sociodemographic risk factors for suicide and Army history variables, and 118 control soldiers who reported suicide ideation in the past year.Results revealed that most (79.3%) soldiers who died by suicide have a prior mental disorder; mental disorders in the prior 30-days were especially strong risk factors for suicide death. Approximately half of suicide decedents tell someone that they are considering suicide. Virtually all of the risk factors identified in this study differed between suicide cases and propensity-score-matched controls, but did not significantly differ between suicide cases and suicide ideators. The most striking difference between suicides and ideators was the presence in the former of an internalizing disorder (especially depression) and multi-morbidity (i.e. 3+ disorders) in the past 30 days.Most soldiers who die by suicide have identifiable mental disorders shortly before their death and tell others about their suicidal thinking, suggesting that there are opportunities for prevention and intervention. However, few risk factors distinguish between suicide ideators and decedents, pointing to an important direction for future research.
Project description:Since 2004, the suicide rate among US Army soldiers has exceeded the rate of death from combat injury. It is critical to establish factors that increase the risk of acting on suicidal thoughts to guide early intervention and suicide prevention. To assess whether firearm ownership, use, storage practices, and accessibility are associated with increased risk of suicide. In this case-control study, suicide cases (n = 135) were defined as US Army soldiers who died by suicide while on active duty between August 1, 2011, and November 1, 2013. Next-of-kin and Army supervisors of soldiers who died by suicide (n = 168) were compared with propensity-matched controls (n = 137); those soldiers with a suicidal ideation in the past year (n = 118) provided structured interview data. Data were analyzed from April 5, 2018, to April 2, 2019. Firearm ownership, storage, and accessibility were assessed by using items from the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview screening scales along with items created for the purpose of the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) study. Among the 135 suicide decedents, next-of-kin reported that they had greater accessibility to firearms compared with propensity-matched controls. Specifically, suicide decedents were more likely to own 1 or more handguns compared with propensity-matched controls (odds ratio [OR], 1.9; 95% CI, 1.0-3.7; χ21 = 4.2; false discovery rate [FDR] P = .08), store a loaded gun at home (OR, 4.1; 95% CI, 1.9-9.1; χ21 = 12.2; FDR P = .003), and publicly carry a gun when not required for military duty (OR, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.4-7.3; χ21 = 7.4; FDR P = .02). The combination of these 3 items was associated with a 3-fold increase in the odds of suicide death (OR, 3.4; 95% CI, 1.2-9.4; χ21 = 5.4; FDR P = .05). Storing a loaded gun with ammunition at home or publicly carrying a gun when not on duty was associated with a 4-fold increase in the odds of suicide death (OR, 3.9; 95% CI, 1.9-7.9; χ21 = 14.1; FDR P = .002). In this study, in addition to gun ownership, ease and immediacy of firearm access were associated with increased suicide risk. Discussion with family members and supervisors about limiting firearm accessibility should be evaluated for potential intervention.
Project description:IMPORTANCE:Suicide attempts in the US Army have risen in the past decade. Understanding the association between suicide attempts and deployment, as well as method and timing of suicide attempts, can assist in developing interventions. OBJECTIVE:To examine suicide attempt risk factors, methods, and timing among soldiers currently deployed, previously deployed, and never deployed at the time this study was conducted. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:This longitudinal, retrospective cohort study of Regular Army-enlisted soldiers on active duty from 2004 through 2009 used individual-level person-month records to examine risk factors (sociodemographic, service related, and mental health), method, and time of suicide attempt by deployment status (never, currently, and previously deployed). Administrative data for the month before each of 9650 incident suicide attempts and an equal-probability sample of 153?528 control person-months for other soldiers were analyzed using a discrete-time survival framework. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:Suicide attempts and career, mental health, and demographic predictors were obtained from administrative and medical records. RESULTS:Of the 9650 enlisted soldiers who attempted suicide, 86.3% were male, 68.4% were younger than 30 years, 59.8% were non-Hispanic white, 76.5% were high school educated, and 54.7% were currently married. The 40.4% of enlisted soldiers who had never been deployed (n?=?12?421?294 person-months) accounted for 61.1% of enlisted soldiers who attempted suicide (n?=?5894 cases). Risk among those never deployed was highest in the second month of service (103 per 100?000 person-months). Risk among soldiers on their first deployment was highest in the sixth month of deployment (25 per 100?000 person-months). For those previously deployed, risk was highest at 5 months after return (40 per 100?000 person-months). Currently and previously deployed soldiers were more likely to attempt suicide with a firearm than those never deployed (currently deployed: OR, 4.0; 95% CI, 2.9-5.6; previously deployed: OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.8-3.9). Across deployment status, suicide attempts were more likely among soldiers who were women (currently deployed: OR, 3.4; 95% CI, 3.0-4.0; previously deployed: OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.4-1.7; and never deployed: OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 2.3-2.6), in their first 2 years of service (currently deployed: OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.5-2.3; previously deployed: OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.9-2.7; and never deployed: OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 2.7-3.6), and had a recently received a mental health diagnosis in the previous month (currently deployed: OR, 29.8; 95% CI, 25.0-35.5; previously deployed: OR, 22.2; 95% CI, 20.1-24.4; and never deployed: OR, 15.0; 95% CI, 14.2-16.0). Among soldiers with 1 previous deployment, odds of a suicide attempt were higher for those who screened positive for depression or posttraumatic stress disorder after return from deployment and particularly at follow-up screening, about 4 to 6 months after deployment (depression: OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1-1.9; posttraumatic stress disorder: OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 2.1-2.8). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:Identifying the timing and risk factors for suicide attempt in soldiers requires consideration of environmental context, individual characteristics, and mental health. These factors can inform prevention efforts.
Project description:Importance:The Department of Veterans Affairs recently began requiring annual suicide ideation (SI) screening of all patients and additional structured questions for patients reporting SI. Related changes are under consideration at the Department of Defense. These changes will presumably lead to higher SI detection, which will require hiring additional clinical staff and/or developing a clinical decision support system to focus in-depth suicide risk assessments on patients considered high risk. Objective:To carry out a proof-of-concept study for whether a brief structured question battery from a survey of US Army soldiers can help target in-depth suicide risk assessments by identifying soldiers with self-reported lifetime SI who are at highest risk of subsequent administratively recorded nonfatal suicide attempts (SAs). Design, Setting, and Participants:Cohort study with prospective observational design. Data were collected from May 2011 to February 2013. Participants were followed up through December 2014. Analyses were conducted from March to November 2018. A logistic regression model was used to assess risk for subsequent administratively recorded nonfatal SAs. A total of 3649 Regular Army soldiers in 3 Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) surveys who reported lifetime SI were followed up for 18 to 45 months from baseline to assess administratively reported nonfatal SAs. Main Outcomes and Measures:Outcome was administratively recorded nonfatal SAs between survey response and December 2014. Predictors were survey variables. Results:The 3649 survey respondents were 80.5% male and had a median (interquartile range) age of 29 (25-36) years (range, 18-55 years); 69.4% were white non-Hispanic, 14.6% were black, 9.0% were Hispanic, 7.0% were another racial/ethnic group. Sixty-five respondents had administratively recorded nonfatal SAs between survey response and December 2014. One additional respondent died by suicide without making a nonfatal SA but was excluded from analysis based on previous evidence that predictors are different for suicide death and nonfatal SAs. Significant risk factors were SI recency (odds ratio [OR], 7.2; 95% CI, 2.9-18.0) and persistence (OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.0-6.8), positive screens for mental disorders (OR, 26.2; 95% CI, 6.1-112.0), and Army career characteristics (OR for junior enlisted rank, 30.0; 95% CI, 3.3-272.5 and OR for senior enlisted rank, 6.7; 95% CI, 0.8-54.9). Cross-validated area under the curve was 0.78. The 10% of respondents with highest estimated risk accounted for 39.2% of subsequent SAs. Conclusions and Relevance:Results suggest the feasibility of developing a clinically useful risk index for SA among soldiers with SI using a small number of self-report questions. If implemented, a continuous quality improvement approach should be taken to refine the structured question series.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Most people with suicide ideation (SI) do not attempt suicide (SA). Understanding the transition from current/recent SI to SA is important for mental health care. Our objective was to identify characteristics that differentiate SA from 30-day SI among representative U.S. Army soldiers. METHODS:Using a unique case-control design, soldiers recently hospitalized for SA (n = 132) and representative soldiers from the same four communities (n = 10,193) were administered the same questionnaire. We systematically identified variables that differentiated suicide attempters from the total population, then examined whether those same variables differentiated all 30-day ideators (n = 257) from the total population and attempters from nonattempting 30-day ideators. RESULTS:In univariable analyses, 20 of 23 predictors were associated with SA in the total population (0.05 level). The best multivariable model included eight significant predictors: interpersonal violence, relationship problems, major depressive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorder (all having positive associations), as well as past 12-month combat trauma, intermittent explosive disorder (IED), and any college education (all having negative associations). Six of these differentiated 30-day ideators from the population. Three differentiated attempters from ideators: past 30-day PTSD (OR = 6.7 [95% CI = 1.1-39.4]), past 30-day IED (OR = 0.2 [95% CI = 0.1-0.5]), and any college education (OR = 0.1 [95% CI = 0.0-0.6]). The 5% of ideators with highest predicted risk in this final model included 20.9% of attempters, a four-fold concentration of risk. CONCLUSIONS:Prospective army research examining transition from SI to SA should consider PTSD, IED, and education. Combat exposure did not differentiate attempters from ideators. Many SA risk factors in the Army population are actually risk factors for SI.
Project description:The rate of suicide attempts in the US Army increased sharply during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Research on this important health outcome has been hampered by the lack of integration among Army administrative data systems.To identify risk factors for suicide attempts among active-duty members of the regular Army from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2009.This longitudinal, retrospective cohort study, as part of the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS), used individual-level person-month records from Army and Department of Defense administrative data systems to examine sociodemographic, service-related, and mental health predictors of medically documented suicide attempts among active-duty regular Army soldiers from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2009. We analyzed data from 9791 suicide attempters and an equal-probability sample of 183,826 control person-months using a discrete-time survival framework. Data analysis was performed from February 3 through November 12, 2014.Suicide attempts identified using Department of Defense Suicide Event Report records and diagnostic codes E950 through E958 from the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification. Standardized estimates of suicide attempt risk for sociodemographic, service-related, and mental health predictor variables were constructed from Army personnel and medical records.Enlisted soldiers accounted for 98.6% of all suicide attempts (9650 attempters; overall rate, 377.0 [95% CI, 369.7-384.7] per 100,000 person-years). In multivariate models, suicide attempts among enlisted soldiers were predicted (data reported as odds ratio [95% CI]) by female sex (2.4 [2.3-2.5]), entering Army service at 25 years or older (1.6 [1.5-1.8]), current age of 29 years or younger (<21 years, 5.6 [5.1-6.2]; 21-24 years, 2.9 [2.6-3.2]; 25-29 years, 1.6 [1.5-1.8]), white race (black, 0.7 [0.6-0.7]; Hispanic, 0.7 [0.7-0.8]; Asian, 0.7 [0.6-0.8]), an educational level of less than high school (2.0 [2.0-2.1]), being in the first 4 years of service (1-2 years, 2.4 [2.2-2.6]; 3-4 years, 1.5 [1.4-1.6]), having never (2.8 [2.6-3.0]) or previously (2.6 [2.4-2.8]) been deployed, and a mental health diagnosis during the previous month (18.2 [17.4-19.1]). Attempts among officers (overall rate, 27.9 per 100,000 person-years) were predicted by female sex (2.8 [2.0-4.1]), entering Army service at 25 years or older (2.0 [1.3-3.1]), current age of 40 years or older (0.5 [0.3-0.8]), and a mental health diagnosis during the previous month (90.2 [59.5-136.7]). Discrete-time hazard models indicated risk among enlisted soldiers was highest in the second month of service (102.7 per 100,000 person-months) and declined substantially as length of service increased (mean during the second year of service, 56.0 per 100,000 person-years; after 4 years of service, 29.4 per 100,000 person-months), whereas risk among officers remained stable (overall mean, 6.1 per 100,000 person-months).Our results represent, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive accounting to date of suicide attempts in the Army. The findings reveal unique risk profiles for enlisted soldiers and officers and highlight the importance of research and prevention focused on enlisted soldiers in their first Army tour.