Suicidal ideation in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with mental health conditions at risk for homelessness

Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2022;92(1):103-108. doi: 10.1037/ort0000590. Epub 2021 Dec 16.


Suicide prevention among Veterans is a national priority. Overlap exists between conditions that may increase risk for suicide (e.g., mental health conditions, financial stressors, lack of social support) and homelessness among Veterans. We examined predictors of variance in suicidal ideation (SI) among 58 Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans at risk for homelessness who were receiving residential mental health treatment. Participants were classified as SI nonendorsers (n = 36) or SI endorsers (n = 22), based on their Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) responses. Independent t tests and chi-square tests were used to examine group differences on baseline demographic variables, neuropsychological measures, and emotional/physical health symptom measures. Compared to nonendorsers, SI endorsers were significantly younger and reported less Veterans Affairs (VA) disability income, less total monthly income, less physical pain, lower quality of life overall and in the psychological health domain, lower community reintegration satisfaction, and more severe anxiety. Groups did not significantly differ on cognitive measures. A subsequent logistic regression revealed that only younger age uniquely predicted variance in SI endorsement. Younger age may be a particularly important factor to consider when assessing suicide risk in Veterans at risk for homelessness. Identifying predictors of variance in SI may help inform future treatment and suicide prevention efforts for Veterans at risk for homelessness. Future longitudinal research examining predictors of suicidality is warranted. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Afghanistan
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*
  • Iraq
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Mental Health
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic*
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Veterans*