Suicidal thoughts among US Army soldiers deployed to Afghanistan

January 29, 2020

Bottom Line: Among nearly 4,000 U.S. Army soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, 11.7% reported suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives, 3.0% within the past year and 1.9% within the past 30 days on questionnaires completed at the midpoint of their deployment in 2012. This observational study used the questionnaires to analyze how common suicidal ideation and mental health disorders were during combat deployment and to examine the associated risk factors. The study is unique in its assessment of soldiers' self-reported suicidal ideation and mental health disorders at the midpoint of deployment, a period when risk for suicide attempts appears to peak. The authors report risk factors associated with recent suicidal thoughts during deployment included being white, past noncombat trauma and past major depressive disorder. Limitations of the study include self-reported data and findings that may not generalize to other soldiers or civilians. The authors suggest major depressive disorder and noncombat trauma are important factors for identifying risk of suicidal thoughts during combat deployments.
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Authors: Robert J. Ursano, M.D., Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, and coauthors

To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/ 

(doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.19935)

Editor's Note: The article includes conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Robert J. Ursano, M.D., email email Sarah Marshall at sarah.marshall@usuhs.edu. The full study is linked to this news release.

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About JAMA Network Open: JAMA Network Open is the new online-only open access general medical journal from the JAMA Network. Every Wednesday and Friday, the journal publishes peer-reviewed clinical research and commentary in more than 40 medical and health subject areas. Every article is free online from the day of publication.

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