The Relationship of Mental Health, Stress, and Deployment on Suicidal Ideation in Active Duty U.S. Army Soldiers




Tabares, Jeffrey V.

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Military suicides, especially among U.S. Army personnel, have increased over the course of post-9/11 military operations. Recent trends indicate that military suicides surpass civilian suicide rates and combat casualties for active duty personnel. Given this upward trend, the U.S. Military and National Institute of Mental Health made a significant investment in the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) team to find answers. This proposed study includes a secondary analysis that identified the impact of unique predictors (i.e., demographics, mental health, life stressors, and deployment stressors) on intent to act on suicidal ideation among post-9/11 U.S. Army personnel. Life and deployment stressors increased odds of acting on intent for suicidal ideation when controlling for demographics and mental health. Deployment stressors remained significant after controlling all other predictor types. Findings from this study suggest that deployment stressors (especially intense combat exposures) may present unique risk for suicidal behavior above and beyond demographics, mental health, and life stress. Additionally, deployment stressors present this risk for suicidal behavior among the fittest Army personnel (i.e., Soldiers who clear health screens and receive orders to deploy). Future research could assess the utility of deployment stressors to identify Army personnel at risk for suicidal behavior and implement targeted interventions.


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Army, Secondary Analysis, Suicide