History of military service and the risk of suicidal ideation: findings from the 2008 National Survey on drug use and health.
White, R.~~Barber, C.~~et al.
Studies of completed suicide by history of military service have produced inconsistent findings; no representative population-based study has compared the risk of nonfatal suicidal behavior among veterans with risk among nonveterans. The objective of this study was to examine whether male veterans of the U.S. military are at heightened risk of suicidal ideation, compared with males who never served in the U.S. military. A total of 17,641 adult men completed the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Subjects provided information about history of ever having served in the U.S. armed forces, past suicidal ideation, alcohol and drug abuse and dependence, measures of psychological distress, and sociodemographic data. Overall, men who had ever served in the armed forces were no more likely than men who had never served to report having seriously considered suicide over the prior 12 months. Military status was not differentially associated with other known suicide risk factors assessed by NSDUH, including psychiatric disorders. Our findings suggest that evidence-based suicide prevention strategies applicable to the general population should be employed to reduce suicide risk among the veteran population as well.