Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan Increases Risk for Death by Suicide

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Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan increases the risk for death by suicide among current and former US military personnel, new research shows.

“Most population-based studies [of suicide] have not included a complete set of previous mental health histories, and they claimed there is no association between deployment and suicide death,” Yu-Chu Shen, PhD, professor of economics, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, told Medscape Medical News.

“But the risk of suicide death is quite different between the time service members are deployed and once they return [and leave the military], so essentially, once you are deployed, the risk remains similar whether you are deployed multiple times…. It’s really exposure to deployment that changes the risk of suicide death,” she added.

“So for clinicians who are seeing service members, the first thing they need to know is: When was the last time you were deployed? That should be part of their clinical observation,” Dr Shen advised.

The study was published online September 30, 2016 in the Lancet Psychiatry. Read more

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