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Time-Related Deployment Factors Predict Suicide Attempt Risk

Suicide attempt risk increased for deployment within first 12 months, dwell time of six months or less

THURSDAY, April 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) — For soldiers who have been deployed twice, suicide attempt (SA) risk is associated with timing of first deployment and dwell time (DT; i.e., length between deployments), according to a study published online April 18 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 in a retrospective cohort study involving active-duty Regular Army enlisted soldiers who had served continuously in the U.S. Army for at least two years and had deployed twice. A total of 593 soldiers with a medically documented SA during or after their second deployment were identified; a control sample of 19,034 other soldiers with two deployments was also selected.

The researchers found that the odds of SA during or after second deployment were increased among soldiers whose first deployment occurred within the first 12 months of service versus after 12 months and among those with a DT of six months or less versus longer than six months (odds ratios, 2.0 and 1.6, respectively), in multivariable models adjusted for sociodemographics, service-related characteristics, and previous mental health diagnosis. There was no correlation for duration of first deployment with subsequent SA. The multivariable population-attributable risk proportions were 14.2 and 4 percent for deployment within the first 12 months of service and DT of six months or less, respectively.

“Time in service before first deployment and DT are modifiable risk factors for SA risk among soldiers,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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