Year: 2023 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2023). 27(2), 818-828. DOI: 10.1080/13811118.2021.1974625 SIEC No: 20231255
Objective: Suicide by former United States military service members is of great public health concern, and one area, veterans' suicide attempts involving firearms, is understudied. One group that has a unique perspective on this are veterans with a psychiatric admission following a firearm-related suicide crisis, such as making a suicide plan or a suicide rehearsal with a firearm within the preceding 72 hours. This study seeks to address this gap in the literature by describing the characteristics and context of non-fatal suicide events involving firearms among veterans. Method: This convergent parallel mixed-methods design study collected both quantitative and qualitative data from male veterans (N = 15) who were hospitalized due to a suicide attempt or serious ideation using a firearm. Veterans admitted to a Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) were interviewed and asked to complete a survey. Qualitative data on characteristics and context were analyzed using a thematic analysis. Results: The fifteen male U.S. military veterans described their personal characteristics, such as their beliefs, family beliefs and structure, emotions, and employment status. Most participants were unemployed (n = 10; 67%), divorced (n = 7; 47%) or married (n = 5; 33%). Seven themes related to context emerged from qualitative interviews to include: combat trauma, non-combat trauma and negative life event(s), current and past suicide attempt(s), firearms, substance use, known deaths by suicide, and protective factors for suicide. Conclusion: Results suggest that engaging support networks and communities is essential when developing programs to promote identification of early warning signs and implementation of interventions or programs for reducing veteran suicide.