This study examines the relationship between physical and mental health problems with suicidal ideation in a representative national sample of Canadian veterans.
Suicide in recent veterans is an international concern. An association between mental disorders and suicide has been established, but less information is available about an association between physical health problems and suicide among veterans. This study extends this area of inquiry by examining the relationship of both physical and mental health problems with suicidal ideation in a representative national sample of Canadian veterans. METHODS: Subjects were a stratified random sample of 2,658 veterans who had been released from the Canadian Armed Forces Regular Force during 1998-2007 and had participated in the 2010 Survey on Transition to Civilian Life. Associations between physical and mental health and past-year suicidal ideation were explored in multivariable regression models using three measures of physical and mental health. RESULTS: The prevalence of suicidal ideation was 5.8% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 5.0%-6.8%). After adjustment for covariates, ideation was associated with gastrointestinal disorders (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.66, CI: 1.03-2.65), depression or anxiety (AOR 5.06, CI: 2.97-8.62) and mood disorders (AOR 2.91, CI: 1.67-5.07); number of physical (AOR 1.22, CI: 1.05-1.42) and mental conditions (AOR 2.32, CI: 2.01-2.68); and SF-12 Health Survey physical health (AOR 0.98, CI: 0.96-0.99 for each 1 point increase) and mental health (AOR 0.88, CI: 0.87-0.89). CONCLUSIONS: Physical health was independently associated with suicidal ideation after adjustment for mental health status and socio-demographic characteristics. The findings underscore the importance of considering physical health in population-based suicide prevention efforts and in mitigating suicide risk in individual veterans
Thompson et al, 2014, Can J Public Health, Roles of physical and mental health in suicidal ideation in Canadian Armed Forces Regular Force veterans, 1058, 2, e109-e115