Many Soldiers Who Attempt Suicide Have No Mental Health Dx

Similar medical, legal, family risk factors tied to suicide attempt regardless of mental health history

FRIDAY, Aug. 31, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- More than one-third of enlisted soldiers with a documented suicide attempt have no history of mental health diagnosis, according to a study published online Aug. 29 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Robert J. Ursano, M.D., from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues used administrative data from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers to identify all active-duty regular Army enlisted soldiers who had a medically documented suicide attempt from 2004 through 2009 (9,650 patients) plus 153,528 controls. The authors examined risk factors for suicide attempt among soldiers without a previous mental health diagnosis.

The researchers found that 36.3 percent of enlisted soldiers with a documented suicide attempt did not have a previous mental health diagnosis. The highest adjusted odds of suicide attempt among soldiers with no previous diagnosis were for female sex (odds ratio [OR], 2.6), less than high school education (OR, 1.9), first year of service (OR, 6), previously deployed (OR, 2.4), promotion delayed two months or less (OR, 2.1), past-year demotion (OR, 1.6), eight or more outpatient physical health care visits in the past two months (OR, 3.3), past-month injury-related outpatient (OR, 3) or inpatient (OR, 3.8) health care visits, previous combat injury (OR, 1.6), subjection to minor violent crime (OR, 1.6), major violent crime perpetration (OR, 2), and family violence (OR, 2.9). Similar associations were seen for most of these variables and suicide attempts among soldiers with a previous mental health diagnosis.

"Administrative records from personnel, medical, legal, and family services systems can assist in identifying soldiers at risk," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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