Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Trauma before enlistment linked to high suicide rates among military personnel, veterans, research finds

Date:
August 9, 2014
Source:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Summary:
High rates of suicide among military service members and veterans may be related to traumatic experiences they had before enlisting, making them more vulnerable to suicidal behavior when coping with combat and multiple deployments, according to the findings of several recent studies. Experiencing child abuse, being sexually victimized by someone not in the service and exhibiting suicidal behavior before enlisting are significant risk factors for service members and veterans who attempt or commit suicide.

High rates of suicide among military service members and veterans may be related to traumatic experiences they had before enlisting, making them more vulnerable to suicidal behavior when coping with combat and multiple deployments, according to the findings of several recent studies presented at the American Psychological Association's 122nd Annual Convention.

Experiencing child abuse, being sexually victimized by someone not in the service and exhibiting suicidal behavior before enlisting are significant risk factors for service members and veterans who attempt or commit suicide, according to experts with the National Center for Veterans Studies (NCVS) at the University of Utah. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among U.S. military personnel. In 2012, there were 319 suicides among active duty service members and 203 among reserve service members, compared to 237 combat-related deaths of active duty service members in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.

Soldiers who reported abuse as children were three to eight times more likely than those who were not abused to report suicidal behavior, which could include thoughts about, planning or attempting suicide, said retired Army Col. James Griffith, PhD. He and other researchers examined Army survey data gathered in 2010 from 12,567 Army National Guard soldiers in 180 company-sized units. Army National Guard and Army Reserve personnel supplement active duty personnel and, at times, comprised 30 to 40 percent of the ground forces in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The study found that 16 percent of the respondents reported harsh punishment during childhood and 8 percent reported physical abuse, findings that are similar to those of studies of active duty Army soldiers. Studies of civilians have also shown childhood abuse to be a significant risk factor for suicide, Griffith said.

"Experiencing abuse early in life in the home may lead to a tendency to perceive and experience stressful events as catastrophic and insurmountable," said Griffith. "A child experiencing abuse has little opportunity to effectively cope when stressed, being in a powerless position with no recourse. This may lead to less ability to handle future stressful circumstances."

Sexual trauma of any type, whether or not the perpetrator is in the military, increases the risk for suicidal behavior among military personnel, according to other research presented. To determine if there was any difference in suicide risk from military sexual trauma compared to civilian sexual trauma, researchers surveyed 426 service members and veterans from all branches in the armed services enrolled in college classes. More than 25 percent of women and 4 percent of men reported sexual trauma while in the military, which is similar to the prevalence of sexual victimization among the general U.S. and college student populations.

Sexual victimization both within and outside of the military was associated with significantly higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, but there were no differences between groups that had suffered either civilian or military sexual victimization, according to the presentation. However, there were differences in how men and women coped with sexual victimization.

"Previous research has found that male survivors of military sexual trauma are less likely to seek mental health care than female survivors," said Craig J. Bryan, PsyD, an Iraq veteran and NCVS executive director. "Men may see it as a threat to their masculinity and be especially prone to shame, which is a strong predictor of suicide attempts in military personnel."

Service members and veterans who attempted suicide before joining the military were six times more likely to attempt suicide after joining the military than those who had never attempted suicide, said Bobbie N. Ray-Sannerud, PsyD, who previously served as an Air Force psychologist. Among service members and veterans who attempted suicide, approximately 50 percent had thought about committing suicide and 25 percent had attempted suicide before joining the military. For these findings, researchers examined data collected from 371 college student veterans via an anonymous online survey and from 151 military personnel receiving outpatient mental health treatment. The study participants came from all branches of military service.

"No previous studies report when many military personnel and veterans first experience suicidal behavior, despite the fact that these vulnerabilities may have a relatively stronger relationship with military and veteran suicide than other commonly investigated risk factors, such as psychiatric symptoms and life stressors," said Ray-Sannerud. "Information about how suicide risk first emerges in military personnel and which military personnel are most vulnerable after they join the service is important for screening and treatment."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association (APA). "Trauma before enlistment linked to high suicide rates among military personnel, veterans, research finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140809141438.htm>.
American Psychological Association (APA). (2014, August 9). Trauma before enlistment linked to high suicide rates among military personnel, veterans, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140809141438.htm
American Psychological Association (APA). "Trauma before enlistment linked to high suicide rates among military personnel, veterans, research finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140809141438.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins