Year: 2016 Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine.(2016).50(6):684-691. SIEC No: 20160542

The Veterans Health Administration health system uses a clinical reminder in the medical record to screen for military sexual trauma. For more than 6 million Veterans, this study assessed associations between military sexual trauma screen results and subsequent suicide mortality.
For Veterans who received Veterans Health Administration services in fiscal years 2007–2011 and were screened for military sexual trauma (5,991,080 men; 360,774 women), proportional hazards regressions evaluated associations between military sexually trauma and suicide risk. Models were adjusted for age, rural residence, medical morbidity, and psychiatric conditions, obtained from medical records at the year military sexual trauma screening occurred. Analyses were conducted in 2014.
Military sexual trauma was reported by 1.1% of men and 21.2% of women. A total of 9,017 Veterans completed suicide during the follow-up period. Hazard ratios for military sexual trauma were 1.69 (95% CI=1.45, 1.97) among men and 2.27 (95% CI=1.76, 2.94) among women. Suicide risk associated with military sexual trauma remained significantly elevated in adjusted models.
Study results are among the first population-based investigations to document sexual trauma as a risk factor for suicide mortality. Military sexual trauma represents a clinical indicator for suicide prevention in the Veterans Health Administration. Results suggest the importance of continued assessments regarding military sexual trauma and suicide risks and of collaboration between military sexual trauma–related programs and suicide prevention efforts. Moreover, military sexual trauma should be considered in suicide prevention strategies even among individuals without documented psychiatric morbidity.

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