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U.S. Army Launching $50 Million Suicide Study

Wednesday August 5, 2009
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The U.S. Army is providing $50 million to carry out the largest study of suicide and mental health among military personnel ever undertaken, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, which will head up the five-year project along with Columbia Psychiatry. The goal is to quickly identify risk and protective factors for suicide among soldiers and provide evidence-based interventions to reduce suicide rates and address associated mental health problems.

Suicide rates among Army service men and women have risen substantially since the beginning of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite major surveillance and intervention efforts, according to the NIMH. Historically, the suicide rate has been lower in the military than among civilians. But last year, the suicide rate in the Army exceeded the age-adjusted rate in the civilian population (20.2 out of 100,000 versus 19.2).

The study will examine a wide range of factors related to and independent of military service, including time since enlistment and deployment status and history, unit cohesion, exposure to combat-related trauma, personal and economic stresses, family history, childhood adversity and abuse, and overall mental health.

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