Recent stressful experiences and suicide risk: Implications for suicide prevention and intervention in U.S. Army soldiers
Dempsey, C. L., Benedek, D. M., Zuromski, K. L., Nock, M. K., Brent, D. A., Ao, J., Georg, M. W., Haller, K., Aliaga, P. A., Heeringa, S. G., Kessler, R. C., Stein, M. B., & Ursano, R. J. (2023). Recent stressful experiences and suicide risk: Implications for suicide prevention and intervention in U.S. Army soldiers. Psychiatric Research and Clinical Practice, 5(1), 24-36. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.prcp.20220027
Abstract Created by REACH:
Given the prevalence of suicide in the U.S. generally and within militaryaffiliated populations specifically, suicide is a public health concern. For this study, next of kin and/ or military supervisors of 135 active-duty Service members who died by suicide between 2011 and 2013 reported those Service members’ mental health diagnoses (e.g., anxiety, personality disorder), stressors in the month before death (e.g., spouse leaving, perceived humiliation), and lifetime stressors (i.e., traumatic or deployment-related stressful life events). The study compared Service members who died by suicide to living Service members with similar demographic and military characteristics (n = 128) and those who reported suicidal ideation within the past year (n = 118). Researchers conducted analyses to differentiate risk factors between Service members experiencing suicidal ideation and those who completed suicide. Overall, recent stressors, such as military punishment in the prior month, increased active-duty Service members’ risk of suicide.
Branch of Service:
Active duty service member
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
Cross sectional study
Dempsey, Catherine L., Benedek, David M., Zuromski, Kelly L., Nock, Matthew K., Brent, David A., Ao, Jingning, Georg, Matthew W., Haller, Katy, Aliaga, Pablo A., Heeringa, Steven G., Kessler, Ronald C., Stein, Murray B., Ursano, Robert J.
Objectives To identify the extent to which the presence of recent stressful events are risk factors for suicide among active‐duty soldiers as reported by informants. Methods Next‐of‐kin (NOK) and supervisors (SUP) of active duty soldiers (n = 135) who died by suicide and two groups of living controls: propensity‐matched (n = 128) and soldiers who reported suicidal ideation in the past year, but did not die (SI) (n = 108) provided data via structured interviews from the Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS). Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to create a risk score for suicide. Results The odds of suicide increased significantly for soldiers experiencing relationship problems, military punishment, and perceived failure or humiliation in the month prior to death. Suicide risk models with these risk factors predicted suicide death among those who reported SI in the past year (OR = 5.9, [95% CI = 1.5, 24.0] χ2 = 6.24, p = 0.0125, AUC, 0.73 (0.7, 0.8) NOK) and (OR = 8.6, [95% CI = 1.4, 51.5] χ2 = 5.49, p = 0.0191, AUC, 0.78 (0.7, 0.8); SUP) suggesting the combination of these recent stressors may contribute to the transition from ideation to action. Conclusions Our findings suggest for the first time recent stressors distinguished suicide ideating controls from suicide decedents in the month prior to death as reported by informants. Implications for preventive intervention efforts for clinicians, supervisors and family members in identifying the transition from ideation to action are discussed.
next of kin, supervisors, active duty soldiers, suicide, suicidal ideation
REACH Publication Type: