Drug and Alcohol Problems Linked to Increased Veteran Suicide Risk, Especially in Women

April 21, 2017

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


A recent study found that substance use disorders may place veterans at increased risk for suicide, particularly among women. Researchers at the University of Michigan (U-M) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) examined data from nearly 5 million veterans, which showed that those with substance use disorder diagnoses had more than double the suicide risk of their peers. Among female veterans with alcohol and drug problems, the suicide risk was more than five times that of their peers. Use of prescription sedatives, such as tranquilizers, was associated with the highest risk of suicide among both sexes compared to other forms of substance use. According to the authors, these results may partly be explained by coexisting psychiatric conditions and substance use diagnoses. “We hope these findings will help clinicians and health systems care for people with substance use disorders, with mental health conditions, and with both—and focus suicide prevention efforts accordingly,” said lead author Kipling Bohnert, researcher with the VA Center for Clinical Management Research and assistant professor of psychiatry at the U-M Medical School. 

Spark Extra! Read the study abstract.