Suicide in the Army National Guard: An empirical inquiry.
Since 2004, suicides in the U.S. military have risen, most notably in the Army National Guard (ARNG). Data used in this study were obtained for suicides occurring from 2007 to 2010 and for a random sample of nonsuicides from the general ARNG population. Of the military-related variables considered, a few showed relationships to suicide. Rather, the primary variables associated with suicide were soldier background characteristics, including age (17Ð24 years), race (White), and gender (male). Cluster analysis revealed two distinct suicide groups: ÒcareeristsÓ (about one third of all suicides) and Òfirst-termersÓ (about two thirds of all suicides), each group exhibiting different concurrent behavioral problems. Since World War II, suicide rates in the U.S. military have been lower than age-matched civilian rates (Cassimatis & Rothberg, 1997). In fact, during wartime, suicide rates in the military generally have declined (Rothberg, Holloway, & Ursano, 1987). Yet, in 2004, when the United States was engaged in warfare in both Iraq and Afghanistan, military suicide rates rose to 20.2 per 100,000. In 2008, military suicide rates surpassed the civilian age-adjusted rate of 19.2 per 100,000. Within the military services, rates for the Marine Corps and the Army first showed increases starting in 2001. Suicide rates for the Army climbed from about 13.7 per 100,000 in 2005 to 20.2 in 2008 (U.S. Army, Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, 2010), higher than the most recently available suicide rate for matched age civilian population at 19.2 per 100,000 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006).