Study Reports Suicide Not Associated with Deployment among U.S. Military Personnel

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A research study by T2 examining the relationship of combat deployments on suicide was published today in JAMA Psychiatry, a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study found no data to support an association between deployments and suicide. In the most comprehensive of its kind to date, the research included more than 3.9 million service members who served during Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom between October 2001 and December 2007, and included suicides that occurred after people separated from the military. There were 5,041 suicides (by both active and separated service members) from October 2001 through December 2009.

The research indicated some other factors that may contribute to suicide risk. Those who had separated from military service within the first four years were at increased risk compared with those who served longer (both for those who had deployed and those who had not). Possible reasons for the higher suicide rate might include the stress of transition from military life, loss of a military identity shared with others and difficulty finding meaningful civilian work. The T2 study did not look at links between suicide and direct exposure to combat or those who experienced injuries.

“We hope that this study will help with suicide prevention efforts,” said lead author Dr. Mark A. Reger, who is T2’s deputy director.

All active military personnel who served in the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps or Navy, including the reserves and the National Guard, were included in the study, and the results were similar for each of the services. The Army’s 2014 STARRS study, which did find a relationship between deployment and suicide, reviewed data just for active component Army personnel.

JAMA Psychiatry
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Wednesday, April 1, 2015
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