Predicting Suicides After Psychiatric Hospitalization in US Army Soldiers
The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS)
This large study, over a 6 year period, which included review of almost 54,000 hospitalizations of soldiers for psychiatric admission diagnoses, allowed the authors to create an algorithm which might allow doctors to predict the likelihood of suicide within the next 12 months. One of the most significant variables was the sex of the patient, men being 8 times more likely to commit suicide. Other risk factors included weapons possession (6 times as likely), late age of enlistment, higher IQ, and history of criminal offenses, prior suicidality, and current antidepressant therapy.
The authors conclude that these data justify targeting expanded posthospitalization interventions to soldiers who have the highest risk of suicide, determined by these risk factors.
According to their estimate we could save four lives for every hundred people we treat.
Since the bulk of the people studied were male, and all were veterans, it would be very interesting and helpful if we extended this type of study to populations which include more women, and report any differences.