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Can Access to Data Prevent Army Suicides Identifying Optimal Response Strategies for Army Leaders

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Technical Report

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RAND Arroyo Center Santa Monica United States

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Among the many efforts underway to prevent suicide in the U.S. Army is a program to develop an information system that would provide leaders with data on high-risk behaviors among individuals and within units that could serve as the basis for prevention and intervention activities. One shortfall of this approach, however, is the lack of guidance on how Army leaders should interpret and use these data. To address this gap, RAND convened a group of experts to reach consensus on recommended actions for leaders who are informed that 1 an individual soldier exhibits a risk factor for suicide, 2 their unit exhibits an atypically high prevalence of suicide risk factors, or 3 their unit exhibits a concerning trend of suicidality. The experts generally agreed that information on suicide risk indicators could be useful to unit leaders if leaders also received guidance on appropriate actions that should be taken based on this information.

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