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Military Suicide: Developing an Understanding of Basic Issues to Provide a Lower Risk Force

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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In the last decade, the suicide rate for military personnel exceeded that of the general population additionally, the suicide rate for military personnel more than doubled. This dramatic increase in suicide rates for the military gained significant public attention and the military then focused on preventing suicides for currently serving service members. An exploration of available research and demographic data identifies specific subpopulations at increased suicide risk prior to entering service. Comparisons of the Army Study to Assess Resilience and Risk in Servicemembers STARRS, national mortality data, and national census data provided a more detailed view of the suicide decedent population. Both the general and military decedent populations present specific trends in behavior and demographics that lead to suicidal behaviors. The research suggests that a significant proportion of new service members enter service possessing the characteristics that will lead to suicidal behavior. These findings imply that the current suicide prevention programs may not fully address the underlying mental health issues associated with the young adult population. As a result, the services may be inadvertently recruiting service members with increased risk.

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Technical Report,05 Jun 2016,25 May 2017



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Approved For Public Release;

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