Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Military service and suicide risk

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health have been comparing suicide rates in military veterans to rates in the rest of the population. They compared suicide rates in 337,637 male veterans and 161,719 male non-veterans between 1982 and 2004. The average age of the sample was 57. The rate of suicide was similar in both groups (0.4%) and remained the same once age, religion, race, area of residence, smoking, body-mass index, physical activity level, alcohol and medication use were taken into account. The only difference was that veterans were more likely to kill themselves with firearms and less likely to use other methods.

You can find out more about this research at

Researchers from the University of Washington, in Seattle, meanwhile, studied 407 veterans who had served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They found that 46% of them had had suicidal thoughts in the month before they thought of seeking psychiatric help and that 3% had made an actual suicide attempt in the four months before seeking care. Those veterans who had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were four times more likely to report suicide-related thoughts.

You can find out about the University of Washington research at

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