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Importance of Mitigating Risk of Suicide Among Veterans With Psychiatric Disorders

Recently, researchers determined why it is important to address opioid use disorders, alcohol use, and depression among a cohort of veterans seeking pain care. According to research findings published online in Psychological Medicine, addressing comorbid opioid use disorders and psychiatric disorders among this cohort helps mitigate the risk of suicidal behavior.

In order to understand and assess the associations of comorbid opioid use disorders and psychiatric disorders with suicide attempts among veterans seeking pain care, the research team observed 222,444 participants. National Veterans Health Administration (VHA) data was used to identify pain care initiation from 2012 to 2014. Further, data on opioid use disorders, psychiatric disorders, medical comorbidity, demographics at baseline, and suicide attempts in the year following the initiation of pain care were extracted from VHA databases. 

According to the findings, comorbid opioid use disorders and depression as well as comorbid opioid use disorders and alcohol use disorder were significantly associated with a higher risk of suicide among veterans. Additionally, the researchers found that only comorbid opioid use disorders and bipolar disorders was associated with suicide attempts.  

“The current findings highlight the importance of addressing opioid use disorders and alcohol use disorders and depression together to mitigate the risk of suicidal behavior,” the research team concluded. —Julie Gould

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