Suicide risk is higher for military personnel than civilians, study says

Suicide risk is far higher for military members and their families than civilian suicide rates, a new study published Monday by the Journal of Family Psychology confirms.

The study, published as a part of the journal’s Military & Veteran Mental Health Series, reports that suicide risk among military personnel who complete a service-related deployment or deployment-related training for at least two months increased by nearly 60 percent for those who deploy for at least a year.

Although suicide rates among military personnel are higher, civilian suicide rates were higher, too, according to a Statistics on Military Psychiatry report released by the National Institute of Mental Health. Suicide rates in the military, which are based on deaths in the line of duty, are thought to be one-fourth to one-quarter the rates of civilian suicides.

“Suicide is, unfortunately, a well-recognized risk factor for soldiers and civilians,” the report said. “Substantial work in the field of suicides has underlined the sustained, interrelated mechanisms associated with suicide for soldiers and others. Suicide rates are, in particular, highly variable across military branches.”

Military families also have a suicide risk similar to civilians, according to the new research. The higher the family lifetime risk of suicide, the greater the risk for military members, including their spouses, kids and caregivers.

The study, which used data from surveys of more than 5,000 active-duty members, civilian civilians and active-duty family members and guardians, did not reveal a significant link between family history of mental illness and suicide risk.

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