Tours of Iraq and Afghanistan highlight those soldiers at highest suicide risk

July 17, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Medical News Today

As researchers continue to analyze data collected in the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS), patterns in suicidal behavior among soldiers are coming to light. A new study based on the STARRS data focuses on non-fatal suicide attempts among United States soldiers during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The authors of the study observed that “enlisted [non-officer] soldiers in their first tour of duty account for most medically documented suicide attempts,” and that “risk is particularly high among soldiers with a recent mental health diagnosis.” The researchers also found that the second month of service is the period when enlisted soldiers are most likely to attempt suicide, with rates declining over longer service and dropping significantly after four years. The data also show that attempt risk is lower during deployment than at other times, and that individuals who enlist before the age of 25 are less likely to attempt suicide than those who sign up later. As in the general population, women in the Army are at higher risk than men for attempted suicide.

Spark Extra! Read about more research on suicide risk in the Army.