Suicide screening in a primary care setting at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Psychosomatics. 1996 Sep-Oct;37(5):413-24. doi: 10.1016/S0033-3182(96)71528-1.


Seven-hundred and three patients from a general medical outpatient clinic at a Veterans Affairs hospital completed the SCREENER, a brief self-report questionnaire that screens for psychiatric disorders. The authors found that 7.3% of the patients had suicidal ideation. The younger and white patients were at increased risk. The risk was increased twelvefold in those patients with subjectively fair or poor mental health, sevenfold in the patients with a history of mental health treatment, and fourfold in the patients with fair or poor perceived physical health. When major depression was controlled for, anxiety and substance abuse disorders continued to show an association with suicidal ideation. The suicidal patients made more visits to their primary care physician. Screening patients for anxiety disorders and drug abuse, as well as depression, is a better approach for identifying suicidal ideation in primary care settings than screening for depression alone and may help prevent suicide and suicide attempts.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self-Assessment
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Veterans / psychology*