Life course well-being framework for suicide prevention in Canadian Armed Forces Veterans
Thompson, J.M., Heber, A., VanTil, L., Simkus, K., Carrese, L., Sareen, J., & Pedlar, D.
Introduction: The risks of suicidality (suicidal ideation or behaviour) are higher in Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Veterans (former members) than in the Canadian general population (CGP). Suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility, but it can be difficult for many to see how they can help. This article proposes an evidence-based theoretical framework for discussing suicide prevention. The framework informed the 2017 joint CAF – Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) suicide prevention strategy. Methods: Evidence for the framework was derived from participation in expert panels conducted by the CAF in 2009 and 2016, a review of findings from epidemiological studies of suicidality in CAF Veterans released since 1976, suicide prevention literature reviews conducted at VAC since 2009, and published theories of suicide. Results: Common to all suicide theories is the understanding that suicide causation is multifactorial, complex, and varies individually such that factors interact rather than lie along linear causal chains. Discussion: The proposed framework has three core concepts: a composite well-being framework, the life course view, and opportunities for prevention along the suicide pathway from ideation to behaviour. Evidence indicates that Veterans are influenced onto, along, and off the pathway by variable combinations of mental illness, stressful well-being problems and life events, individual factors including suicidal diathesis vulnerability, barriers to well-being supports, acquired lethal capability, imitation, impulsivity, and access to lethal means. The proposed framework can inform discussions about both whole-community participation in prevention, intervention and postvention activities at the individual and population levels, and the development of hypotheses for the increased risk of suicidality in CAF Veterans.