Suicides among Serbian war veterans: An autopsy study.
Mihailovic, Z.~~Savic, S.~~et al.
The risk of suicide among war veterans is a controversial issue, where findings so far have been contradictory. Objective. This study focusses on suicide in Serbian veterans from the wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s in order to create appropriate preventive measures and reduce the number of these fatal cases. Methods. The autopsy protocols of all 44 suicides committed by war veterans in the Belgrade District population over a period between 1992 and 2000 were investigated. Data were obtained from autopsy records, results of toxicological investigations and psychological autopsy protocols. Results. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder were present in 27.3%, major depression in 9.1% and schizophrenia in 6.8% of veterans. The majority of suicides (84.1%) were committed by recruits in the Yugoslav National Army, spending between three and eight months in the zone of war operations. Six committed suicide during the first 30 days after their war activities, while the majority of suicides occurred between five and six years after combat. The most frequent manner of suicide was the use of handguns (56.8%) and bombs (18.2%). Conclusion. The results of this research may give useful information about the individuals with the highest suicidal risk in order to alleviate the consequences of war psychotraumas in veterans and prevent their growth into a permanent handicap or suicide.
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