Young ex-servicemen face higher suicide risk

March 3rd, 2009 - 5:30 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 3 (ANI): Younger ex-military personnel face higher suicide risk than their civilian counterparts, reveals a new US study.

According to Professor Nav Kapur, lead author and professor of psychiatry and population health at Manchester University, former servicemen were up to three times more likely to end their lives, especially those carrying lower ranks and shorter military careers.

His fellow researchers also related UK military discharge data between 1996 and 2005 with details of suicides collected by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicides and Homicides.

During the study period, 224 individuals of 233,803 had committed suicide after leaving the Armed Forces.

While those under the 24-year-old age bracket were noticed to be at an increased risk as compared to the general category of same age, the reasons for such an occurrence were yet to be established.

Kapur said: “One explanation for the higher suicide risk among young ex-military personnel is that those entering military service at a young age are already vulnerable to suicide, which would explain why those serving for a relatively short period of time before being discharged were most likely to take their own lives.

“A second explanation is the difficulty a minority of individuals experience making the transition to civilian life.

“However, a third possibility that we could not explore in this study is that exposure to adverse experiences during military service or active deployment played a role in the two to three-fold increase in suicide among young veterans, although many of those most at risk had not completed basic training and therefore had not deployed overseas.”

Kapur continued: “Whatever the explanation for our findings, these individuals may benefit from some form of intervention.

Initial pre-recruitment interview, medical examination and training are important in ensuring military health but it should be recognised that those discharged at any of these stages may be at higher risk of suicide.”

The study, funded by the Veterans Policy Unit in the UK Ministry of Defence, was published in the journal PLoS Medicine. (ANI)

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