The risk of suicide among wounded Vietnam veterans

Am J Public Health. 1996 May;86(5):662-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.86.5.662.


Objectives: This study was undertaken to determine whether an association exists between combat trauma and risk of postservice suicide among Vietnam veterans.

Methods: Risk of suicide for 34,534 veterans who were wounded in Vietnam was evaluated for severity of wound and number of times wounded.

Results: There was a trend of increasing risk of suicide with increased occurrence of combat trauma, the highest relative risk (1.82, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.12, 2.96) being observed for those veterans who were wounded more than once and hospitalized for a wound. In comparison with the US male general population, veterans hospitalized because of a combat wound or wounded more than once had a significantly increased risk of suicide (standardized mortality ratios [SMRs] of 1.22 [95% CI = 1.00, 1.46] and 1.58 [95% CI = 1.06, 2.26], respectively). Those wounded more than once and hospitalized had the highest increased risk of suicide (SMR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.10, 2.60).

Conclusions: This study suggests that, among wounded Vietnam veterans, there is an increased risk for suicide associated with increased occurrence of combat trauma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cause of Death
  • Cohort Studies
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Veterans*
  • Vietnam
  • Warfare
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*