National Violent Death Reporting System, physical health, predictors, suicide, veterans


Veteran suicide is a serious public health problem. Some data suggest that veteran suicide risk profiles differ from those of nonveterans. Records for veteran (n = 21,692) and nonveteran (n = 83,430) men who died by suicide were examined from 17 U.S. states using the National Violent Death Reporting System data. Seventeen precipitating factors were examined and combined through meta-analysis of proportions. Many precipitating factors were found to be less frequent for veterans. A smaller number of factors were found to be higher in the veteran population, including physical health problems. A sizable cumulative effect size (1.02) was observed, suggesting that veteran and nonveteran men show meaningful and substantive differences in their risk profiles—differences that should be considered when planning and implementing suicide prevention and intervention efforts. The conspicuous role of physical health problems among veterans who die by suicide is discussed. The article concludes with specific practice recommendations for social workers.

Original Publication Citation

David S Wood, Bethany M Wood, Aislinn Watson, Devan Sheffield, Helena Hauter, Veteran Suicide Risk Factors: A National Sample of Nonveteran and Veteran Men Who Died by Suicide, Health & Social Work, Volume 45, Issue 1, February 2020, Pages 23–30.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Health & Social Work




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor

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Social Work Commons