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Study identifies factors associated with suicide risk among military personnel

Date:
August 6, 2013
Source:
American Medical Association (AMA)
Summary:
In an examination of risk factors associated with suicide in current and former military personnel, male sex and mental disorders were independently associated with suicide risk, but not military-specific variables, findings that do not support an association between deployment or combat with suicide.
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In an examination of risk factors associated with suicide in current and former military personnel observed 2001 and 2008, male sex and mental disorders were independently associated with suicide risk but not military-specific variables, findings that do not support an association between deployment or combat with suicide, according to a study in the August 7 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on violence/human rights.

"Despite universal access to healthcare services, mandatory suicide prevention training, and other preventive efforts, suicide has become one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. military in recent years," according to background information in the article. "Beginning in 2005, the incidence of suicide deaths in the U.S. military began to sharply increase. Unique stressors, such as combat deployments, have been assumed to underlie the increasing incidence. Previous military suicide studies, however, have relied on case series and cross-sectional investigations and have not linked data during service with postservice periods."

Cynthia A. LeardMann, M.P.H., of the Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, and colleagues conducted a study to identify and quantify factors associated with suicide risk in a large population of military personnel. Accrual and assessment of participants was conducted in 2001, 2004 and 2007. Questionnaire data were linked with the National Death Index and the Department of Defense Medical Mortality Registry through December 31, 2008. Participants were current and former U.S. military personnel from all service branches, including active and Reserve/National Guard, who were included in the Millennium Cohort Study (N = 151,560), a U.S. military study.

Between 2001 and 2008, there were 83 suicides among the participants in the study. In models adjusted for age and sex, factors significantly associated with increased risk of suicide included male sex, depression, manic-depressive disorder, heavy or binge drinking, and alcohol-related problems. The authors found that none of the deployment-related factors (combat experience, cumulative days deployed, or number of deployments) were associated with increased suicide risk in any of the models.

The researchers speculate that the increased rate of suicide in the military "may largely be a product of an increased prevalence of mental disorders in this population, possibly resulting from indirect cumulative occupational stresses across both deployed and home-station environments over years of war."


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The above story is based on materials provided by American Medical Association (AMA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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American Medical Association (AMA). "Study identifies factors associated with suicide risk among military personnel." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806165920.htm>.
American Medical Association (AMA). (2013, August 6). Study identifies factors associated with suicide risk among military personnel. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806165920.htm
American Medical Association (AMA). "Study identifies factors associated with suicide risk among military personnel." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806165920.htm (accessed May 28, 2015).

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