Characteristics of Veterans Accessing the Veterans Affairs Telephone Triage Who Have Depression or Suicidal Ideation: Opportunities for Intervention

Alison Ludwig, Cynthia Lucero-Obusan, Patricia Schirmer, Mark Holodniy


Veterans accessing Veterans Affairs (VA) health care have more characteristics associated with suicide risk compared with the general U.S. population. Telephone triage is a national telephone-based system used to assess Veterans with acute medical or mental health complaints. We used a biosurveillance application to characterize Veterans who call telephone triage because of suicidal ideation or depression. >2,000 Veterans called during January-June 2012. Suicide prevention training should be prioritized for operators working during off-hours and weekends. Standard notification of clinical staff regarding calls to prevent loss to follow-up and investigation into increased call burden in identified geographic areas is recommended.

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *