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More Than One in 10 Deployed Soldiers Thinks About Suicide

Lifetime noncombat trauma exposure and major depressive disorder may up the risk for suicide ideation

soldier getting counseling

TUESDAY, Feb. 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Major depressive disorder (MDD) and noncombat trauma are important factors tied to suicide ideation (SI) risk during combat deployment, according to a study published online Jan. 29 in JAMA Network Open.

Robert J. Ursano, M.D., from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues assessed suicide ideation, lifetime and 12-month stressors, and mental disorders through a survey of 3,957 U.S. soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.

The researchers found that lifetime, past-year, and 30-day SI prevalence estimates were 11.7, 3, and 1.9 percent, respectively. Among soldiers with SI, 44.2 percent had MDD and 19.3 percent had posttraumatic stress disorder in the past 30-day period. White race/ethnicity (odds ratio [OR], 3.1), lifetime noncombat trauma (OR, 2.1), and MDD (past 30 days: OR, 31.8; before past 30 days: OR, 4.9) were associated with SI. From survey administration through 12 months after returning from deployment, of the 85 soldiers with past 30-day SI, five had a documented suicide attempt versus six of the 3,872 soldiers without SI.

"Research examining deployment experiences that increase SI in soldiers with past trauma and MDD may assist clinicians and leadership in identifying and treating those at increased risk," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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