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Major depression leads to unprecedented increase in military suicide


The number of suicides committed among US army personnel has increased by 80% between the years 2004 and 2008. The new study from the US Army Public Health Command is published in Injury and Prevention. The rise in suicide also correlated to rise in other mental health issues. Outpatient consultations increased almost twofold from 116 per 1000 in 2003 to 216 per 1000 in 2008. Hospitalizations for mental health reasons also increased from 7.1 per 1000 in 2003 to 12 per 1000 in 2008.

“This increase, unprecedented in over 30 years of US Army records, suggests that approximately 40% of suicides that occurred in 2008 may be associated with post-2003 events following the major commitment of troops to Iraq, in addition to the ongoing operations in Afghanistan,” stated the published paper.

These findings underscore the need for enhanced methods of identifying, treating, and monitoring military personnel who are at risk. Additionally, they found that substance misuse, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, depression, psychosis, post-traumatic stress, and adjustment disorders in soldiers contributed to their suicide risk. In fact soldiers with depression were over 11 times more likely to take their own life. Those diagnosed with adjustment disorder were 10 times more likely. Adjustment disorder is an emotional and behavioral reaction that occurs when someone is physically close to stressful events. The events change their perspective making it difficult to return to normal life.

Compared with suicide rates in 2008, the historical trend suggests that 39% of these suicides may be linked to military events after the World Trade Center bombing and subsequent involvement in Iraq and now Afghanistan.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Injury and Prevention

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