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Report Links Veterans’ Suicides Not To Battlefield Trauma, But To Going Home Early

Beverly and Pack via Flickr/

The rate of suicide among military personnel has more than doubled since 2005.  A study released earlier this month in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry found no connection between suicide and deployment.

The study looked at military members who served during the latest conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Researchers found elevated rates of suicide among veterans with fewer than four years of service, and among those who received other-than-honorable discharges.

Caitlin Thompson, Deputy Director of Suicide Prevention for the Veterans Administration, says the report challenges assumptions about deployed service members.

“When one is deployed there may be more of a sense of purpose in terms of what they are doing. There certainly is a level of social support with the group that you're going abroad with,” says Thompson.

Thompson explains the study raises many questions for the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to consider.

“I think that it opens up a very important opportunity to be working with the Department of Defense to really work on these levels of transition for those who may be other than voluntarily discharged or dishonorably discharged,” said Thompson.

Researchers continue to look at other factors associated with suicidal risk, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Michelle Faust, MA, is a reporter/ producer whose work focuses strongly on issues related to health and health policy. She joined the WXXI newsroom in February 2014, and in short time became the lead producer on the Understanding the Affordable Care Act series. Michelle is a reporter with Side Effects and regularly contributes to The Innovation Trail. Working across media, she also produces packages for WXXI-TV’s weekly news magazine Need to Know.