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Female Vets Much More Likely to Commit Suicide, Study Finds

THURSDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The suicide rate among young female U.S. military veterans is nearly three times higher than among civilian women, a new study has found.

Researchers analyzed data on 5,948 female suicides in 16 states between 2004 and 2007. In the 18-to-34 age group, there were 56 suicides among 418,132 veterans and 1,461 suicides among 33,257,362 nonveterans.

That suicide rate amounted to one out of 7,465 young female veterans compared with one out of 22,763 young female civilians, the researchers explained in a news release from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

"The rate was lower in the next oldest group [of female veterans] we studied, aged 35 to 44, and the rate was lower still among [veterans] aged 45 to 64. However, even within this age group, the rate was higher than civilian women's suicide rates," study co-author Dr. Bentson McFarland, a professor of psychiatry at the OHSU School of Medicine, said in the news release.

The study, which is the first general population study of suicide risk among U.S. female veterans, is published in the December issue of Psychiatric Services.

"This study shows that young women veterans have nearly triple the suicide rate of young women who never served in the military," study co-author Mark Kaplan, of Portland State University, said in the news release. "The elevated rates of suicide among women veterans should be a call to action, especially for clinicians and caregivers to be aware of warning signs and helpful prevention resources such as the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline."

The hotline phone number is 1-800-273-8255.

More information has more about female veterans and mental health.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Oregon Health & Science University, news release, Dec. 1, 2010

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