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August 13, 2008

Risk of Suicide Among US Veterans After Returning From the Iraq or Afghanistan War Zones

JAMA. 2008;300(6):652-653. doi:10.1001/jama.300.6.652

To the Editor: To our knowledge, there has been no scientific evaluation of suicide risk among veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF). We therefore compared suicide risk among OIF/OEF veterans with the US population. We also assessed suicide risk among veterans who were diagnosed with selected mental disorders using the patient care data available from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

All potential study veterans were identified by the Defense Manpower Data Center. The final cohort included all 490 346 veterans who served in OIF/OEF and were separated alive from active duty between October 2001 and December 2005. Health care utilization data were based on electronic inpatient and outpatient data recorded at all VA medical centers. The mental disorder diagnoses (from the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification) were affective psychoses, neurotic disorders, alcohol/drug dependence, acute reactions to stress, adjustment disorders, and other depressive disorders. Race was self-reported using fixed categories. Vital status follow-up ended with date of death or December 31, 2005, the most recent cause-of-death data available from the National Death Index.

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