Hopelessness and suicidal ideation in Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans reporting subthreshold and threshold posttraumatic stress disorder

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2011 Apr;199(4):272-5. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182124604.


We examined hopelessness and suicidal ideation in association with subthreshold and threshold posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a sample of Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans (U.S., N = 275) assessed within a specialty VA postdeployment health clinic. Veterans completed paper-and-pencil questionnaires at intake. The military version of the PTSD Checklist was used to determine PTSD levels (No PTSD; subthreshold PTSD; PTSD), and endorsement of hopelessness or suicidal ideation were used as markers of elevated suicide risk. Veterans were also asked if they received mental health treatment in the prior 6 months. Veterans reporting subthreshold PTSD were 3 times more likely to endorse these markers of elevated suicide risk relative to the Veterans without PTSD. We found no significant differences in likelihood of endorsing hopelessness or suicidal ideation comparing subthreshold and threshold PTSD groups, although the subthreshold PTSD group was less likely to report prior mental health treatment. Clinicians should be attentive to suicide risk in returned Veterans reporting both subthreshold and threshold PTSD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-*
  • Checklist
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterans / psychology*