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Gambling problems predict suicidality in recently transitioned military veterans

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Objective: This study investigated associations between gambling problems and suicidality in Australian veterans.
Methods: Data drawn from n = 3,511 Australian Defence Force veterans who had recently transitioned to civilian life. Gambling problems were
assessed using the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) and suicidal ideation and behaviour were assessed using items adapted from the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing.
Results: At-risk gambling and problem gambling were associated with increased odds of suicidal ideation [at-risk gambling: odds ratio (OR), 1.93; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.47‒2.53; problem gambling: OR, 2.75; 95% CI 1.86‒4.06] and suicide planning or attempts (at-risk gambling: OR, 2.07; 95% CI, 1.39‒3.06; problem gambling: OR 4.22, 95% CI, 2.61‒6.81). The association with total scores on the PGSI and any suicidality was substantially reduced and became non-significant when controlling for the effects of depressive symptoms, but not financial hardship or social support.
Conclusions: Gambling problems and harms are important risk factors for suicide in veterans, and should be recognised in veteran-specific suicide prevention policies and programs, along with co-occurring mental health problems.
Implications for public health: A comprehensive public health approach to reducing gambling harm should feature in suicide prevention efforts in veteran and military populations.

  • Team/Investigators

    Dr Olivia Metcalf (Phoenix Australia), Greg Roebuck (Phoenix Australia), Dr Ellie Lawrence-Wood (Phoenix Australia), Nicole Sadler AM CSC (Phoenix Australia), Jenelle Baur (Phoenix Australia), Associate Professor Miranda Van Hooff (Military and Emergency Services and Health Australia (MESHA)), Professor David Forbes (Phoenix Australia), Professor Meaghan O'Donnell (Phoenix Australia), Dr Stephanie Hodson (Department of Veteran's Affairs), Helen Benassi (Department of Defence), Tracey Varker (Phoenix Australia), Professor Malcolm Battersby (Flinders University), Alexander C. McFarlane (Phoenix Australia), Dr Sean Cowlishaw (Phoenix Australia)

  • Funding Body

    Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation

  • Expected Completion Date

    25 January 2023

  • Article Identifier

    DOI: 10.1016/j.anzjph.2023.100038

  • Journal Title

    Australia New Zealand Journal of Public Health

  • PMID

    PMID: 37055278

  • MeSH Terms

    gambling; military; suicidality; veteran.

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