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Military spouses’ perceptions of suicide in the military spouse community

APA Citation:

Cole, R. F., Cowan, R. G., Dunn, H., & Lincoln, T. (2021). Military spouses’ perceptions of suicide in the military spouse community. The Professional Counselor, 11(2), 203-217. https://doi.org/10.15241/rfc.11.2.203

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study used a sample of 10 military-affiliated civilian spouses to explore their thoughts and feelings related to suicide among military-affiliated civilian spouses. These civilian spouses were married to active-duty Service members and completed two interviews. Overall, 6 themes were identified, highlighting the potential risk factors, protective factors, and preventative services related to the suicide of military-affiliated civilian spouses.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches
Air Force

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Qualitative Study
Cross sectional study


Cole, R. F., Cowan, R. G., Dunn, H., Lincoln, T.


Newly released data from the U.S. Department of Defense shows military spouse suicide to be an imminent concern for the U.S. military. Currently, there is an absence of research in the counseling profession related to suicide prevention and intervention for this population. Therefore, this qualitative phenomenological study explored the perceptions of military spouses regarding suicide within their community. Ten military spouses were interviewed twice and were asked to provide written responses to follow-up questions. Six main themes emerged: (a) loss of control, (b) loss of identity, (c) fear of seeking mental health services, (d) difficulty accessing mental health services, (e) the military spouse community as a protective factor, and (f) desire for better communication about available mental health resources. Implications for practicing counselors and military leadership in helping to prevent military spouse suicide as well as recommendations for future research regarding ways to support military spouse mental health and prevent suicide in this community are included.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Uniformed Services University, RFC
Walden University, RGC
Arkansas State University, HD
Arkansas State University, TL


suicide, military spouse

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


Arkansas State University

REACH Newsletter:

  July 2022

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