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U.S. military suicide rates similar for deployed, non-deployed

March 4, 2014 at 4:55 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- The rise in U.S. soldier suicides from 2004 to 2009 occurred not only in those currently and previously deployed, but soldiers never deployed, researchers say.

The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service members, the largest study of mental health risk and resilience among U.S. military personnel related to suicide attempts and deaths, also found:

-- Nearly half of soldiers who reported suicide attempts indicated their first attempt was prior to enlistment.

-- Soldiers reported higher rates of certain mental disorders than civilians, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intermittent explosive disorder -- recurrent episodes of extreme anger or violence and substance use disorder.

Lead author of one of the studies, Michael Schoenbaum of NIMH and colleagues, examined the suicide and accident death rates in relation to basic socio-demographic and U.S. Army experience factors in the 975,057 regular Army soldiers who served from Jan. 1, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2009.

This study found that the suicide rates increased during this time period, even among those who had never deployed, and also found that being deployed increased suicide risk for women more than it did for men. The study also found suicide risk still remained lower for deployed women than for deployed men and soldiers who were demoted in the past two years experienced increased suicide risk.

The second article, by lead author Matthew Nock of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., surveyed 5,000 non-deployed soldiers and found 14 percent of soldiers considered suicide at some point in their lifetime, 5.3 percent made a suicide plan and 2.4 percent attempted suicide -- with 47 percent to 60 percent of these outcomes first occurring prior to joining the Army.

Researchers found that soldiers attempting suicide appeared to be lower-ranking, enlisted, female and to have been previously deployed.

The third article by lead author Ronald C. Kessler of Harvard Medical School and colleagues compared the rates of common mental disorders with a set of non-deployed soldiers and a group of similarly aged civilians.

The most common disorders in soldiers were attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and intermittent explosive disorder. Almost 85 percent of those who self-identified as having had a mental health disorder reported that the problem began prior to joining the Army, the study found.

The findings were published in a series of three Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry articles.

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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