Risk and protective factors associated with suicidal ideation in veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom

Robert H Pietrzak, Marc B Goldstein, James C Malley, Alison J Rivers, Douglas C Johnson, Steven M Southwick
Journal of Affective Disorders 2010, 123 (1): 102-7

BACKGROUND: Little is known about variables associated with suicidality in veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF).

METHODS: A total of 272 OEF/OIF veterans completed a survey containing measures of psychopathology, resilience, and social support. Thirty-four respondents (12.5%) reported contemplating suicide in the two weeks prior to completing the survey.

RESULTS: Suicide contemplators were more likely to screen positive for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and an alcohol problem, and scored higher on measures of psychosocial difficulties, stigma, and barriers to care, and lower on measures of resilience and social support. Logistic regression analysis revealed that positive PTSD and depression screens, and increased psychosocial difficulties were associated with suicidal ideation, and that increased postdeployment social support and sense of purpose and control were negatively associated with suicidal ideation.

CONCLUSIONS: Interventions for PTSD, depression, and psychosocial difficulties, and to bolster postdeployment social support and resilience may be helpful in preventing suicidal ideation in OEF/OIF veterans.

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