The study showed that soldiers who were never deployed were at highest risk for suicide attempts during their second month of service. The risk among soldiers on their first deployment was highest during the sixth month of deployment. Those soldiers who had completed deployment, risk increased five months after they'd returned home.
"Suicide attempts are important targets for care," said lead author Dr. Robert Ursano, of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. "We always talk about completed suicide, but completed suicide is just the tip of the iceberg."
The findings of the study were published in detail JAMA Psychiatry. Ursano and his team claim that suicide attempts have increased in the U.S. Army over the past decade but no study has been done to study it closely. According to researchers it is important to understand risk factors as it helps in the creation of interventions for suicide attempts.
For the study, Ursano and his team focused on 163,178 enlisted Army soldiers on active duty between 2004 and 2009. During that time, 9,650 soldiers attempted suicide. About 86 percent were male, about 68 percent were younger than 30, and most were white, high school graduates and married.
While 40 percent of the total population had never been deployed, the number of soldiers in that group accounted for about 61 percent of the soldiers who attempted suicide. Previously deployed soldiers accounted for 29 percent of the suicide attempts.