Suicidal ideation in military veterans with alcohol dependence and PTSD: The role of hostility.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES Suicide is a significant public health problem among US military Veterans with rates exceeding civilian samples. Alcohol dependence (AD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are both associated with increases in suicidality. Given that risk of suicide is higher among those with both disorders, the study of relevant risk factors among those in this group is important. The current investigation focused on one such factor, hostility, and examined both overt hostility (ie, hostility that is more behavioral in nature and directed outwardly) and covert hostility (ie, hostility that is cognitive in nature and introspective) and their relationships to suicidal ideation. METHODS Ninety-three Veterans participating in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled treatment study evaluating the efficacy of the alpha-adrenergic agonist prazosin completed measures assessing overt hostility, covert hostility, and suicidal ideation at baseline. Depression symptoms and PTSD symptom severity also were assessed. RESULTS Of the total sample, 60 participants (63.8%) indicated that they experienced suicidal ideation at some point in their lives. Covert hostility, in addition to PTSD symptom severity were found to be associated with the presence of lifetime suicidal ideation. Furthermore, depression symptoms were found to be associated with greater intensity of that ideation. CONCLUSION AND SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE Findings highlight the importance of covert hostility as it relates to suicidal ideation among those with comorbid PTSD and AD and provides information which may help inform treatment approaches for high-risk military Veterans. (Am J Addict 2018;27:124-130).

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