Evaluation of the Safety and Design of Community Internet Resources for Veteran Suicide Prevention

Crisis. 2019 Sep;40(5):347-354. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910/a000590. Epub 2019 Apr 2.


Background: Recent data show many veterans who die by suicide are not currently engaged in mental health care. Veterans frequently use the Internet for health information and may look online for community resources when in distress. However, little is known about their design characteristics. Aim: To evaluate the design and content of community, veteran suicide prevention websites. Method: Community websites focused on veteran suicide prevention were gathered through Internet searches using standardized search terms. Websites that met the inclusion criteria (n = 9) were evaluated for adherence to suicide safe messaging, usability, readability, and credibility heuristics. Interrater reliability was evaluated using kappa statistics. Descriptive statistics were used to describe website features. Results: Community websites tended to provide help-seeking information, safe messaging, and community activities. However, no websites provided information on lethal means safety or references to signal credibility. Limitations: The sample was small and only included English-language websites, and focused on veteran-oriented, community websites. Conclusion: Community suicide prevention websites focused on veterans could be improved through increased readability, credibility, and provision of lethal means safety information.

Keywords: Internet; community; messaging; suicide; veterans.

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Health Information*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Help-Seeking Behavior
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Safety
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • United States
  • Veterans*