This study utilized data from the national ACCESS program (N = 7224) to investigate the prevalence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in a sample of homeless people with mental illness. The prevalence of suicidal ideation in this sample was high (66.2% lifetime prevalence). In addition, 51.3% of the sample reported that they had ever attempted suicide, 26.9% reported an attempt that resulted in a nonpsychiatric hospitalization, and 8% reported an attempt in the previous 30 days. Youth, substance abuse, and psychiatric symptoms were all significantly associated with suicide attempts. Those who reported a recent attempt also reported higher rates of mental health care utilization, particularly inpatient care. The authors conclude that homeless people with mental illness are at particularly high risk for suicidal behavior, however, only in part because of the high prevalence of traditional risk factors.
1 Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine and North East Program Evaluation Center (NEPEC), NEPEC/182, West Haven VAMC, 950 Campbell Avenue, West Haven, Connecticut 06516. Send reprint requests to Dr. Desai.
2 NEPEC, West Haven, Connecticut.
3 Division of Health Policy, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine and NEPEC, West Haven, Connecticut.
4 Departments of Psychiatry and Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine and NEPEC, West Haven, Connecticut.
This study was supported in part by interagency agreement AM-98C1200A between the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs Northeast Program Evaluation Center. Mr. Dausey is the recipient of an NIMH training grant (MH-15783–23).
The authors thank Brett Kloos, MA, Suzanne Golub, MA, Simeon Goodwin, PhD, Jacob Tebes, PhD, Mardi Solomon, MA, Sue Pickett, PhD, Greg Miessen, PhD, Robert Calsyn, PhD, Phyllis White, MA, Coleman Poses, MSW, Laverne Knezek, PhD, Deborah Webb, PhD, Marilyn Biggerstaff, DSW, Peter Brissing, MSW, and Jennifer Cahill.