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Decker SE, Ramsey CM, Ronzitti S, Kerns RD, Driscoll MA, Dziura J, Skanderson M, Bathulapalli H, Brandt CA, Haskell SG, Goulet JL. Military sexual trauma and suicidal ideation in VHA-care-seeking OEF/OIF/OND veterans without mental health diagnosis or treatment. Psychiatry Research. 2021 Sep 1; 303:114089.
Sexual trauma is a suicide risk factor. While military sexual trauma (MST) is frequently associated with suicidal ideation (SI) in women and men veterans who served in recent conflicts, less is known about MST's relationship to SI in veterans who have no documented mental health concerns. Of the 1.1 million post-9/11 veterans enrolled in the Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA) we examined 41,658 (12.3% women, 87.7% men) without evidence of mental health diagnosis or treatment and who were screened for MST and SI using the standard VHA clinical reminders between 2008 and 2013. Relative risk estimates were generated using separate models for women and men. MST was reported by 27.9% of women and 2.9% of men; SI by 14.7% and 16.5%, respectively. The adjusted relative risk of MST on SI was 1.65 (95% CI 1.35, 2.00) in women, and 1.49 (95% CI 1.26, 1.75) in men. In this sample of veterans without evidence of mental health diagnosis or treatment, MST was associated with a high risk of SI in both genders. Positive MST screening should prompt SI screening and risk management if indicated, and further study of barriers to mental healthcare among MST survivors at risk for suicide is warranted.