October 28, 2016
When they left the military, the risk of suicide remained higher than for current service members for several years. Six years after leaving the military, veterans had a 63 percent higher risk of suicide than those still in the service, the study found.Veterans may be more likely to commit suicide during the first year after they leave the military than after more time passes, a U.S. study suggests.
Compared with people still on active duty in the military, veterans out of the service for up to three months were 2.5 times more likely to commit suicide, the study found. Veterans who had left the service from three to 12 months earlier had almost triple the suicide odds of current members of the military.
"Family members and community can be proactive to reach out to veterans if they recently experienced stressful events - not just limited to the stressful events we can capture in the data such as divorce or separation from the military," said lead study author Yu-Chu Shen, a researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
"In addition, clinicians should be aware that deployments may increase suicide risk independently of underlying mental disorders, and so asking patients about deployment history is advisable," Shen said by email.
However, in the first quarter following deployment, service members had a 50 percent higher risk of suicide than their peers who didn't experience deployment.
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