• telephone hotline assessment;
  • telephone counselling;
  • military service veterans;
  • crisis;
  • suicidal attempts

Studies show that suicide occurs more frequently among people who are elderly, male, single, divorced or widowed, alienated, and among those with a life-threatening illness. Military service veterans are not spared these conditions; in some respect, they represent the ‘down and out’, the lonely and, increasingly, the older isolated people. This correlational descriptive study sought to identify the characteristic profile of telephone hotline users among veterans, their triggering crisis events, and whether the methods commonly used in suicide attempts relate to certain types of crisis. The random sample consisted of 271 veterans of the US military service, ranging in age from 20 to 79 years. Data were collected from nursing notes documented in the hotline suicide telephone call assessment records. The findings portray a sociodemographic profile of military veterans at risk of suicide attempts. Loneliness, alcoholism and unemployment topped the list of triggering events. The most common method used was drug overdose; shooting was a close second. These findings could serve as a base for development of suicide-prevention-focused programmes and optimal use of telephone hotlines for assessment and timely intervention of persons in great crisis.