A network analysis of risk factors for suicide in Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans

VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Workgroup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Suicidal ideation (SI) is a prevalent issue in the veteran population. A number of factors have been identified as risk factors for suicidal ideation (SI) in veterans, including suicide attempts, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and drug use. However, clinicians’ ability to predict suicide is poor, particularly given the interplay between various factors such as previous suicide attempts. As such, there is a gap in our knowledge of which factors most saliently predict suicide risk and which should be targets for interventions designed to lower SI. Network analysis, a method allowing for an examination of how variables relate within the context of a network of factors, may bridge this gap by simultaneously evaluating the interrelationships between risk factors for suicide in veterans. Current study used network analysis and data from 2268 Iraq/Afghanistan-era military veterans to examine the relationships between suicidal ideation and several factors related to suicide risk, such as past suicide attempts, PTSD symptoms, depression, drug use, trauma exposure. Partial correlation network results showed suicidal ideation to be strongly related to depression, with smaller connections to past suicide attempts and anger. Additionally, past suicide attempts was strongly related to history of childhood trauma and weakly related to problematic drug use and PTSD symptoms. These results offer valuable information for both predicting suicide risk and differentiating targets for interventions lowering suicide risk in veterans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-271
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Network analysis
  • Risk factors
  • Suicide
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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