Study Disputes Link Between Combat and Suicide

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Combat appears to have little or no influence on suicide rates among U.S. troops and veterans, according to a military study that challenges the conventional thinking about war’s effects on the psyche.

Depression and other types of mental illness, alcohol problems and being male — strong risk factors for suicide among civilians — were all linked to self-inflicted deaths among current and former members of the military.

But the researchers found deployment and combat did not raise the risk.

….the military suicide rate climbed sharply between 2005 and 2009, to about 20 per 100,000 people followed for one year. At the same time, there was an increase in the number of people with mental illness in the military. The reason for that is unclear, the study authors said.

The suicide rate in the general population also increased in recent years, to almost 18 per 100,000 in 2010, according to a JAMA editorial.

….Hoge said service members are routinely and extensively screened for mental illness before enlisting and afterward and those who are seriously ill are rejected. But he noted that some mental illnesses typically emerge first in young adulthood.

By LINDSEY TANNER, Associated Press

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