Veterans May Face Higher Risk of Suicide during First Year Home

November 17, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Announcement


New research indicates that veterans may be at increased risk for suicide in the first year after separation from the military. In an effort to better understand suicide risk during and after military service, investigators examined data collected on all U.S. military personnel between 2001 and 2011. They found that the risk of suicide death was highest in the year after leaving the military and remained elevated for several years thereafter. The most significant predictors of suicide death were a history of self-injury, major depression, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse. In addition, current deployment was found to reduce the risk of suicide among service members, while the period immediately following deployment increased the risk of suicide. “Family members and community can be proactive to reach out to veterans if they recently experienced stressful events—not just limited to the stressful events we can capture in the data such as divorce or separation from the military,” said lead author and Naval Postgraduate School researcher Yu-Chu Shen. “In addition, clinicians should be aware that deployments may increase suicide risk independently of underlying mental disorders, and so asking patients about deployment history is advisable.”

Spark Extra! Read the study abstract.