Recent Mental Health Problems Increase Risk of Suicide in Enlisted Soldiers Interview with:

Robert J. Ursano, M.D. Professor and Chair Department of Psychiatry/ Director Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Dr. Robert Ursano

Robert J. Ursano, M.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Psychiatry/ Director
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Ursano: This study is part of STARRS-LS (Study to address risk and resilience in service members-longitudinal study). STARRS is a group of studies that address suicide risk in the US Army. Suicidal behavior includes suicide ideation, plans, attempts and completions. Understanding the transitions between these is an important goal.

One component of STARRS is the examination of data available on all soldiers who were in the Army 2004-2009. This study examines suicide attempts in soldiers serving 2004-2009 in order to understand the association with deployment and the timing of suicide attempts as well as their association with mental health problems. STARRS is directed to identifying the who, when and where of service member risk. Then interventions can better be developed for these soldiers. What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Ursano: Suicide attempts are more common among enlisted soldiers. The timing of suicide attempts varies. For those who have never deployed, the risk is greatest shortly after entering services (about 2 months), for those who are deployed the risk is greatest at about mid deployment, and for those previously deployed the risk is greatest in the first 6-12 months after return.

Recent mental health problems increase risk. Surveys done after return home (PDHA and PDHRA) for PTSD and Depresssion also identify those at increased risk. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Ursano: Further study of risk and resilience is needed as well as understanding the transitions across suicide behaviors. Thank you for your contribution to the community.

Citation: Murray B. Stein, Chia-Yen Chen, Robert J. Ursano, Tianxi Cai, Joel Gelernter, Steven G. Heeringa, Sonia Jain, Kevin P. Jensen, Adam X. Maihofer, Colter Mitchell, Caroline M. Nievergelt, Matthew K. Nock, Benjamin M. Neale, Renato Polimanti, Stephan Ripke, Xiaoying Sun, Michael L. Thomas, Qian Wang, Erin B. Ware, Susan Borja, Ronald C. Kessler, Jordan W. Smoller. Genome-wide Association Studies of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in 2 Cohorts of US Army Soldiers. JAMA Psychiatry, 2016; DOI:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0350

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on May 27, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD