Risk Factors Associated with Suicidal Ideation in a Sample of Veterans

Research Paper Title

Risk factors of suicidal ideation in a population of UK military veterans seeking support for mental health difficulties.

Background

Little has been reported regarding the risk factors of suicidal ideation in individuals once they have left the military in the UK. The aim of this paper was to explore the risk factors associated with suicidal ideation in a sample of treatment-seeking veterans.

Methods

Using a cross-sectional design, participants included veterans (n=144) seeking treatment from a national mental health charity in the UK. Individuals completed questionnaires regarding their military experiences, pre-enlistment factors and health. Data were then linked to risk assessments extracted from clinical records.

Results

After controlling for relevant variables, suicidal ideation was significantly higher in veterans who:

  • Were unemployed (OR 8.01; 95% CI 1.79 to 35.80);
  • Were early service leavers (OR 8.46; 95% CI 2.21 to 32.35); and
  • Those with a history of childhood adversity (OR 6.92; 95% CI 2.10 to 22.82).

In addition, taking longer than 5 years to seek help was associated with a reduced risk of suicidal ideation (OR 0.10; 95% CI 0.06 to 0.87).

There was no association between health outcomes and suicidal ideation.

Conclusions

Risk factors associated with suicidal ideation in this sample of veterans included: being unemployed, an early service leaver, taking less than 5 years to seek help and experiencing pre-service adversity.

Reference

Harden, L. & Murphy, D. (2018) Risk factors of suicidal ideation in a population of UK military veterans seeking support for mental health difficulties. Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps. 164(5), pp.352-356. doi: 10.1136/jramc-2018-000921. Epub 2018 Jun 27.

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