Nearly one fifth of veterans struggle with depression or PTSD, and the suicide rates have doubled in the past decade among those who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. But little attention has been given to the veterans who face additional emotional and psychological challenges as they return from combat and enroll in college. M. David Rudd and Jeffrey Goulding of the University of Utah, and Craig J. Bryan of the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio, believe this segment of veterans is particularly vulnerable to suicide due to the increased levels of pressure and stress resulting from college.
The researchers conducted a study on 628 student veterans, examining suicide risk and psychological symptoms and severity. They used The National Center for Veterans Studies (NCVS) survey to rate the students’ satisfaction with psychological services on campus. The participants were screened for symptoms using the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, the Combat Exposure Scale, the PTSD Checklist and the Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire—Revised Edition. The results revealed that almost 35% of students had “severe anxiety,” almost one half met required criteria for clinical PTSD, and nearly 25% of the students reported symptoms of “severe depression.” The researchers said, “Of particular concern, there are significant numbers of participants thinking about suicide (46%), with 20% having a plan, 10.4% thinking about suicide “often or very often,” 7.7% making an attempt, and 3.8% believing that suicide is either likely or very likely.”
The team hopes their findings will underscore the importance of addressing these issues for student veterans. They added, “Given the type, frequency, and severity of psychiatric symptoms, and the simple fact that these veterans are on college and university campuses, it is important to consider whether or not universities are adequately staffed and prepared to assist and treat them when needed.”
Rudd, M. D., Goulding, J., & Bryan, C. J. (2011, August 15). Student Veterans: A National Survey Exploring Psychological Symptoms and Suicide Risk. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025164
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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