Suicide exposure is common among National Guard personnel, and is associated with increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, according to a recent study. Risk is highest for those personnel who know multiple suicide decedents and were closer to the suicide decedent. An anonymous online survey was completed by 971 military personnel assigned to the National Guard in Utah and Idaho. Researchers found:
- 65.4% of National Guard personnel reported knowing someone who had died by suicide.
- On average, participants knew 3.0 (SD = 2.0) suicide decedents.
- Total number of known suicide decedents was associated with significantly increased risk for PTSD, depression, and suicide ideation, but not suicide attempt.
- Perceived closeness to the suicide decedent was associated with significantly increased risk for PTSD, depression, suicide ideation, and suicide attempt.
- The majority of participants who experienced suicidal thoughts and attempts after the suicide exposure had a previous history of suicide ideation.
Bryan CJ, Cerel J, Bryan AO. Exposure to suicide is associated with increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors among National Guard military personnel. [Published online ahead of print May 18, 2017]. Compr Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/j.comppsych.2017.05.006.