Suicide prevention in military organizations
Suicide is an important public health problem in the demographic group that forms the bulk of military populations, namely young and middle-aged men. Suicide in the military also has special significance: certain aspects of military service can lead to serious mental disorders that increase the risk of suicidal behaviour. Moreover, military organizations have control over a broad range of factors (notably the direct delivery of mental health care) that could mitigate suicide risk. This article will review the literature on suicide risk in military organizations to answer the important question: Are military personnel at increased risk for suicide? Next, model for specific suicide preventive interventions in civilian settings will be reviewed and then expanded, with an emphasis on identifying special opportunities for suicide prevention in military organizations, including: 1) organizational interventions to mitigate work stress; 2) selection, resilience training, and risk factor reduction; 3) interventions to overcome barriers to care; and 4) systematic quality improvement efforts in mental health care. Finally, the evidence behind comprehensive suicide prevention programmes will be reviewed, with a special focus on the US Air Force’s benchmark programme.