Monday, July 4, 2011

Veterans’ Suicide Try an Ominous Warning Sign

A new study investigates the troubling fact that American veterans who repeatedly attempt suicide suffer significantly greater mortality rates than the general population.

The transition back into civilian life is difficult after weathering the stresses of military life and the terrors of combat. Some soldiers find themselves overwhelmed by the transition. Many have already survived one suicide attempt, but never get the extra help and support they needed, with tragic results.

Researchers discovered veterans who have attempted suicide not only have an elevated risk of further suicide attempts, but face mortality risks from all causes at a rate three times greater than the general population.

The study is the largest follow-up of suicide attempters in any group in the U.S., and is unique even among the relatively few studies on veteran suicide.

Douglas J. Wiebe, Ph.D., and fellow researchers studied the records of 10,163 veterans treated for a suicide attempt between 1993-1998. They discovered 1,836 died during the follow-up period through 2002, with heart disease, cancer, accidents, and suicide accounting for over 57 percent of those deaths.

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