An initial investigation of suicide attempt disclosures among US veterans
Ammerman, B.A., Carter, S.P., Gebhardt, H.M., Buchholz, J., & Reger, M.A.
Background: Patient disclosure of prior suicidal behaviors is critical for effectively managing suicide risk; however, many attempts go undisclosed. Aims: The current study explored how responses following a suicide attempt disclosure may relate to help-seeking outcomes. Method: Participants included 37 veterans with a previous suicide attempt receiving inpatient psychiatric treatment. Veterans reported on their most and least helpful experiences disclosing their suicide attempt to others. Results: Veterans disclosed their suicide attempt to approximately eight individuals. Mental health professionals were the most cited recipient of their most helpful disclosure; romantic partners were the most common recipient of their least helpful disclosures. Positive reactions within the context of the least helpful disclosure experience were positively associated with a sense of connection with the disclosure recipient. Positive reactions within the most helpful disclosure experience were positively associated with the likelihood of future disclosure. No reactions were associated with having sought professional care or likelihood of seeking professional care. Limitations: The results are considered preliminary due to the small sample size. Conclusion: Findings suggest that while positive reactions may influence suicide attempt disclosure experiences broadly, additional research is needed to clarify factors that drive the decision to disclose a suicide attempt to a professional.