Active duty military personnel are at a higher risk for suicide than their civilian counterparts, in part due to the stigma associated with mental issues in the military. A new study examined four specific psychosocial factors that influence the risk of suicidal ideation. Researchers at the University of South Alabama and Stony Brook University examined the 2006 Community Assessment (CA) survey, an anonymous survey that is given to Air Force personnel throughout the world. They also looked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s predictors of suicide ideation in a sampling of over 50,000 active duty Air Force Personnel. The CA was given to the personnel through an online contractor and asked questions about four specific social factors, including family, individual, community and workplace functioning. The researchers said, “This study is the first to examine risk factors from four ecological levels as they relate to men’s and women’s suicidal ideation in a large military sample.”
The results showed that each of the four ecological factors influenced the risk for suicide ideation. The authors said, “Self reports of past-year suicidal ideation were obtained from a large sample of active-duty AF members via an anonymous online survey; the prevalence of suicidal ideation in this sample was approximately 4%. As expected, the majority (21 of 21 for men, 19 of 21 for women) of the measured risk and promotive factors from all four ecological levels of influence (individual, family, organization/workplace, and community) were associated significantly with suicidal ideation for both genders.” The researchers noted that individual factors, specifically depressive symptoms or alcohol misuse, had a clear impact on suicide ideation. Additionally, lack of family support was an important factor that increased suicide ideation in these personnel. They added, “Even in multivariate models that included depressive symptoms, variables from multiple levels of influence were retained as significant predictors for both men and women.”
Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Jennifer, Jeffrey D. Snarr, Amy M. Smith Slep, Richard E. Heyman, and Heather M. Foran. “Risk for Suicidal Ideation in the U.S. Air Force: An Ecological Perspective.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (July, 25, 2011). Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0024631
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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