Association Between Adverse Social Determinants of Health and Suicide Death

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Medical care


OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to identify adverse social determinants of health (SDoH) International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) code prevalence among individuals who died by suicide and to examine associations between documented adverse SDoH and suicide.

RESEARCH DESIGN: A case-control study using linked medical record, insurance claim, and mortality data from 2000 to 2015 obtained from 9 Mental Health Research Network-affiliated health systems. We included 3330 individuals who died by suicide and 333,000 randomly selected controls matched on index year and health system location. All individuals in the study (cases and controls) had at least 10 months of enrollment before the study index date. The index date for the study for each case and their matched controls was the suicide date for that given case.

RESULTS: Adverse SDoH documentation was low; only 6.6% of cases had ≥1 documented adverse SDoH in the year before suicide. Any documented SDoH and several specific adverse SDoH categories were more frequent among cases than controls. Any documented adverse SDoH was associated with higher suicide odds [adjusted odds ratio (aOR)=2.76; 95% CI: 2.38-3.20], as was family alcoholism/drug addiction (aOR=18.23; 95% CI: 8.54-38.92), being an abuse victim/perpetrator (aOR=2.53; 95% CI: 1.99-3.21), other primary support group problems (aOR=1.91; 95% CI: 1.32-2.75), employment/occupational maladjustment problems (aOR=8.83; 95% CI: 5.62-13.87), housing/economic problems (aOR: 6.41; 95% CI: 4.47-9.19), legal problems (aOR=27.30; 95% CI: 12.35-60.33), and other psychosocial problems (aOR=2.58; 95% CI: 1.98-3.36).

CONCLUSIONS: Although documented SDoH prevalence was low, several adverse SDoH were associated with increased suicide odds, supporting calls to increase SDoH documentation in medical records. This will improve understanding of SDoH prevalence and assist in identification and intervention among individuals at high suicide risk.

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ePub ahead of print