This study describes characteristics of United States Air Force (USAF) suicide decedents and determines subgroups.
Retrospective review of demographic, psychiatric, event‐related, and psychosocial variables for USAF suicide decedents in the Suicide Event Surveillance System database was conducted between February 1999 and July 2009 (N = 376). Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to determine initial clusters and cluster centroids.
Analyses identified three clusters. Cluster 1 (n = 149) individuals were mostly single or divorced, E‐1‐E‐6 rank, living alone, and less likely to have psychiatric disorder diagnoses or engage with most helping resources. Cluster 2 (n = 126) decedents were mostly married, living with a partner, higher ranking, and least likely to communicate suicide intent. Cluster 3 (n = 101) individuals were mostly E‐4‐E‐6 rank, with the highest rates of most psychiatric diagnoses, previous suicide‐related events, engagement with multiple helping resources, communication of intent, and psychosocial precipitants. Clusters differed significantly in marital status, rank, psychiatric diagnoses, precipitants, service utilization, previous suicide‐related events, risk factors, communication of intent, location and method of death, and residential status.
This study identifies empirically based suicide typologies within a military decedent sample. While further research and replications of findings are needed, these typologies have clinical and policy implications for military suicide prevention.