Military Connection: Study Finds No Link Between Suicide and Deployment


By Debbie Gregory.

Assessing the instances of suicide in service members and veterans have been foremost for many years, but analyzing data specific to those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan has recently shown there has not been a higher risk in this group.

A study of 3.9 million military personnel who served in OEF and OIF revealed some interesting data.  Statistics have shown that instances of suicide among  active-duty personnel has increased since 2001, but within this cohort, there was no evidence of higher instances of suicide in those deployed to combat zones versus those who did not.

The results did reveal, however, that the higher risk of suicide was found in those who served less than three years, and particularly those who were discharged in less than one year of service.

The study was conducted by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology. Deputy Director Mark Reger, lead author of the study, was impressed with this early-discharge outcome.

“This is an important finding. It shows those who separated from military service had a 63 percent higher suicide rate overall.”  Reger continued by saying, “Why are these people at higher risk, we don’t have data to explain it.”

With the information revealed by this study, more research can now focus on why early separation from military service would cause a higher risk of suicide.  Medical records or personnel records were not factored.  Some considerations for future studies may point to either the reintegration process or the reasons behind a discharge from service less than three years.

The six-year OEF/OIF study included all troops serving from 7 Oct. 2001 to 31 Dec. 2007.  Where multiple deployments did have a slightly higher instance of suicide, Reger indicated that future research would identify combat exposure.

“Obviously everyone who deploys does not see the same level of combat, and that may have an impact, as do combat injuries or other factors,” Reger said.  Ultimately, the researchers want to assure troops are supported and deployment will not be an added risk to suicide.

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Military Connection: Study Finds No Link To Suicide With Deployed Troops: by Debbie Gregory