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The Association between Suicide and OIF/OEF Deployment History

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Final rept. 23 Jul 2009-22 Jul 2013

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One of the most important questions in military suicide research at this time is whether deployment in support of Operations Iraqi or Enduring Freedom OIFOEF is associated with an increased risk of suicide. The equivocal research conducted to date on this topic creates a confusing picture for military senior leaders and the American public. The Report of the Blue Ribbon Workgroup on Suicide Prevention in the Veteran Population Peake, 2008 reviewed this body of literature and concluded that significant limitations and biases in many of the epidemiological approaches conducted to date contribute to the current confusion. The funded study is specifically designed to address many of the recommendations of that report in order to generate seminal results that will fill what is arguably the most important gap in the epidemiological study of military suicide. This collaborative DoD-VA study will utilize multiple enterprise level databases to determine whether a history of deployment in support of OIFOEF is a risk factor for suicide. In addition, the proposed study will examine the suicide rates of post-deployed National Guard members and Reservists to determine whether these cohorts are at increased risk of suicide. Furthermore, it will examine rates of deaths of undetermined intent in military and civilian populations to determine whether potential misclassifications of deaths may confound military and civilian comparisons of suicide rates. In examining these suicide rates, the funded study will also specifically account for the potential confounding effect of service members who have not completed a full term of service e.g., because of misconduct, substance abuse, etc. and thus may be more likely to have risk factors for suicide.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Psychology
  • Unconventional Warfare

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