The sharp increase in suicide attempts have listed researchers to condone a new study, which concluded that female enlisted soldiers have double the risk of committing suicide than male enlisted soldiers. The risk factors were also influenced by race, rank, status, educational background and medical history.
In between 2004 and 2009, in the midst of war with Afghanistan and Iraq, suicide attempts skyrocketed among enlisted soldiers of the United States army, and became a priority among matters of national health and concerns.
The study gathered data and personal information of over 163,000 enlisted soldiers and approximately 30,500 officers, along with their likelihood to develop mental problems or commit suicide based on sociodemographic profiles and experience with the army. One in four active duty soldiers attempted suicide, with a 40% increase of death rates for those who had made attempts in the past.
Researchers observed that the risk seemed to be lower for officers than soldiers, who underwent different tasks and training, and who were generally better experienced and older. Contributing factors might have that they were more advanced in age, married and with higher levels of education achieved.
Dr. Robert Ursano, of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, who participated in the study also observed that the risk is higher within the first year of service, or even more likely, within the first three months when the soldiers have to adjust to the new environment and lifestyle.
Interestingly enough, the probabilities of suicide attempts were also much higher in enlisted soldiers who were never deployed or who were previously deployed, in comparison to those already engaged in the war. However, statistics would be much more difficult to keep track of during deployment, with many perishing in the line of duty or injuries sustained on field of battle. Not all suicide attempts end up reported.
Several other risk factors were taken into consideration and the results showed that women were much more likely to commit suicide than men, with two times the risk, even though the percentage of female soldiers is quite low in the commonly male-dominated army service. The percentage increased even further if they had been diagnosed with mental health issues prior to enrollment.
The age factor underlined that enlisted soldiers who were 29 or younger and those above 40 years old presented higher risk of attempting suicide, especially if they enrolled after they were 25. Better adjustment was shown from those who had enlisted much earlier and who had received a better education, or at the very least graduating from high school.
The study was unable to definitively conclude why these factors were the ones contributing the most to the rate of attempted suicides, but it brought to attention that more research is needed in order to prevent it, and hopefully diminish the number of lives lost adding to an already significant amount of those perishing in war.
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