Some people might say you’d have to have a mental problem to enlist in the military, but that’s not exactly the point of a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry as reported in The Guardian:
The first three studies in a large research initiative to better understand US military suicides indicates that some patterns in military suicide are reflective of mental health problems in the civilian population.
The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army Starrs) uses data from existing army systems and what researchers can collect from soldiers to better understand why soldiers might be at an increased risk for suicidal behavior compared to the civilian population.
Two of the three papers, published Monday in Jama Psychiatry, show the results of surveys and interviews with 5,428 soldiers which looked at theprevalence of mental disorders among non-deployed soldiers and suicidal behavior among currently deployed soldiers. The third study tested common theories about military suicide using historical data.
One major data point from the studies: 1 in 5 soldiers had a common mental illness before enlisting in the army, but were able to clear the military’s screening procedures. Intermittent explosive disorder was the most common disorder in the study and was prevalent in the the pre-enlistment population at nearly six times the civilian rate.
“Depression might get a person thinking about suicide, but it’s really this history of aggressive, angry outbursts that predicts who acts on their suicidal thoughts,” said Matthew Nock, a Harvard University psychologist who led the study on the prevalence of suicide. He said this also holds true in the civilian population.
While the disorder was more prevalent in the military population, pre-enlistment rates for mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and substance abuse mirrored those in the US civilian population. The study authors said the pre-enlistment mental disorders could be targets for early screening and intervention in the military…
[continues in The Guardian]