Soldiers in army units with history of suicide attempts more likely to try to kill themselves, finds study

Soldiers in army units with history of suicide attempts more likely to try to kill themselves, finds study

Fleeting irrelevant thoughts often assail one when going through a bad phase. But some people actively involve themselves in making suicidal plans or design ways that can help them end their lives. The statistics provided by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), reveal that roughly 43,000 people take their own lives each year. The AFSP figures also report that an estimated 1.1 million Americans attempt suicide every year.

The tendency is quite common in the armed forces. Now, a group of researchers from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences has tried to find if a prior attempt to commit suicide in a soldier’s Army unit exacerbates the potential risk of other suicide attempts. In a study published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in July 2017, the researchers made use of administrative details from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service members (STARRS). They identified documentation of all those regular American soldiers who were on active duty and had tried to commit suicide between 2004 and 2009. The data contained details of 9,512 soldiers who had attempted to take their own lives.

Evaluating risk of suicide attempts among soldiers

On analyzing the data it was found that soldiers were more likely to try to kill themselves if one or multiple suicide attempts had taken place in their unit during the previous year. In addition, details showed that potential chances of suicide went up as the number of bids to take their own lives in a unit had increased. Results also indicated how soldiers in a unit with suicide attempts equal to five or more in the past year had more than two times the chances of suicide bids when compared with their peers with no history of suicide attempts.

Elucidating the observations, authors wrote, “Our study indicates that risk of suicide attempt (SA) among U.S. Army soldiers is influenced by a history of SAs within a soldier’s unit and that higher numbers of unit SAs are related to greater individual suicide risk, particularly in smaller units. Early unit-based postvention consisting of coordinated efforts to provide behavioral, psychosocial, spiritual and public health support after SAs may be an essential tool in promoting recovery and suicide prevention in service members.”

However, the authors have warned of possible limitations, including potential diagnostic or coding errors in the data gathered and collated. Also, they stressed that the results obtained may not be generalized to that of the data obtained in the earlier or later periods of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or other American military expeditions.

Military suicides on the rise

Rates of suicide among American soldiers, whether on active duty or post retirement, are high. Experts suggest that the trend highlights the Army’s failure to contain self-destructive tendencies of its people. As opposed to the U.S. Army publishing suicide statistics regularly every month, the data is now posted by the Pentagon every quarter with delays often extending over months. It indicates a great sense of concern among federal agencies, Army and the Congress.

Seeking help

Contemplating suicide does not imply that victims do not value their own lives. It indicates the grievous extent of feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that have taken over their lives. According to the AFSP, 90 percent of those who commit suicide had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.

Sovereign Health understands the plight of veterans as well as working soldiers who experience stress and trauma due to their job requirements. As recurring stress levels can rip apart their emotional health, clinicians at our suicidal ideation disorder treatment centers in Los Angeles recommend a combination of effective remedial therapies, along with medicines, during the treatment process. To know more about our center offering suicidal ideation disorder treatment at Los Angeles, you may call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat with our online representatives.

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