The third study found that suicide rates for all U.S. military services increased between 2005 and 2007, particularly for members of the regular Army and National Guard.
The analysis of data from 2,064,183 active duty personnel in 2005 and 1,981,810 active duty personnel in 2007 also showed that mental health diagnoses, mental health visits, prescriptions for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants and sleep medicines, reduction in rank, enlisted rank and separation or divorce were all associated with suicides.
Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan were associated with an elevated risk of suicide among all services in 2007, and for the Army in 2005.
The increased risk of suicide associated with deployments in 2007 compared with 2005 may be due to the extended duration of war and increasing lengths of deployment for Army and Air Force personnel, the researchers suggested.
"Additional research needs to address the increasing rates of suicide in active duty personnel. This should include careful evaluation of suicide prevention programs and the possible increase in risk associated with SSRIs and other mental health drugs, as well as the possible impact of shorter deployments, age, mental health diagnoses and relationship problems," the researchers concluded.
The American Psychiatric Association has more about military mental health.
-- Robert Preidt
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