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Suicide-Related Incident Reporting in DoDs Personnel Security Program


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This study explored data trends, field procedures, and policy requirements associated with DoD suicide-related incident reports. Research considered scope and consequences of suicide-related incident reporting, circumstances leading to reporting, and recommendations to improve protections for vulnerable personnel who undergo this process. Analysis of Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) incident data found that approximately 3.9 percent (i.e., 1,683) of 42,708 FY16 incidents were suicide-related. Furthermore, suicide-related incidents were more likely to be reported within the military (5.5 percent of military incidents) relative to civilian and contractor populations (1.5 and 0.5 of their incidents). Access suspensions were slightly more common among suicide versus non-suicide-related incidents (16.0 vs. 14.2), but unfavorable eligibility outcomes did not differ between these groups (11.9 vs. 12.6 for eligibility loss; 1.1 vs. 1.4 for denials/revocations, specifically). However, suicide-related incidents took longer to adjudicate (7.9 vs. 5.4 months). Additionally, these reports were more likely to be associated with hospitalizations but less likely to involve assaults or arrests. Finally, researchers spoke with subject matter experts (SMEs; security officials, commanders, and psychologists) to understand how suicide-related incidents are addressed in the field. SMEs discussed ramifications of reporting these events as security concerns, common ways these events become known and are handled, reporting obstacles, use of psychological evaluations, and treatment referral processes. Research findings suggest more guidance, training, and policy specificity for reporting suicidal behavior is needed. If these behaviors remain required reporting per policy, stakeholders should focus stigma reduction efforts on improving adjudication timeliness. One way to achieve this goal is to introduce timeliness metrics for these sensitive incident-reporting events.



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