Suicide Attempts by Active Duty Military Personnel: Findings from the 2015 Department of Defense Health-Related Behaviors Survey
In the last decade, the suicide rate among the active-duty U.S. military has increased significantly, almost doubling in the Army and Marines Corps. The prevalent view is that factors related to military deployments are the primary drivers associated with risk of suicide, but the research evidence is mixed. There are factors, not directly related to deployment, associated with risk of suicide that is common in many studies such as suicide attempts, substance abuse problems, and young age. This study examines the extent to which suicide attempts are associated with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression among active duty military personnel using binomial logistic regression. The regression model uses data from the 2015 Department of Defense Health-Related Behaviors Survey, which provides physical and mental health information on 16,699 active duty personnel in all branches of the U.S. military. This analysis finds that service members with probable PTSD or depression have a high likelihood of attempting suicide controlling for common suicide factors. Understanding the predictors of suicide attempts will inform approaches to mitigate suicide risk in the U.S military.