Association between Services to Address Adverse Social Determinants of Health and Suicide Mortality among Veterans with Indicators of Housing Instability, Unemployment, and Justice Involvement

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Archives of Suicide Research


Suicide among Veterans continues to be a priority issue addressed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In addition to a variety of services specifically intended to prevent suicide, VA also offers a number of services to address Veterans’ social determinants of health (SDH), several of which may be associated with elevated risk for suicide. For the present study, we assessed whether participation in services to address adverse SDH is associated with a reduction in risk of suicide mortality among Veterans using secondary data from VA datasets (1/1/2014–12/31/2019) for Veterans with an indicator of housing instability, unemployment, or justice involvement. Logistic regressions modeled suicide mortality; use of services to address SDH was the primary predictor. There was not a statistically significant association between services use and suicide mortality; significant correlates included race other than African American, low or no compensation related to disability incurred during military service, and suicidal ideation/attempt during observation period. Suicide is a complex outcome, difficult to predict, and likely the result of many factors; while there is not a consistent association between services use related to adverse SDH and suicide mortality, providers should intervene with Veterans who do not engage in SDH-focused services but have risk factors for suicide mortality.

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