New Study Supports Link Between Combat and Suicide Risk

Last Thursday a paper was published online in Current Psychiatric Reports that hopes to shed light on why an astonishing 22 veterans commit suicide each day. The study sought to explain record suicides among soldiers during and after their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The comprehensive effort finds an indirect link between deployment, combat and self-destructive urges.

The two scientists that conducted the study argue that high rates of depression or PTSD stemming from the combat experience can lead to suicidal ideations.  From these conditions stems social isolation and a sense of burdening others.  From there it continues downhill and there is a loss of personal relationships.  Throw in a familiarity with firearms and you have an increased likelihood for suicides.

Numbers At An All-Time High

Among active-duty soldiers in the Army, suicides reached 185 in 2012, which was an historic high.  That rate is roughly 30 deaths per 100,000.  This is triple the rate of what it was in the Army in 2004, and double the rate among civilians.

Although among active members the number decreased by 19% in 2013, the number among Army National Guard and reservists was at an all0time high of 151 last year.

No Clear Explanation

There is no specific reason the scientists can point to with absolute certainty to explain the rise in military suicides.  They did acknowledge that just ahead of the increased suicides there was a surge in mental health issues of service members.  Hospitalizations for depression doubled, increased 5x for substance and 10-fold for PTSD.

It seems that  most people within the survey struggled during a transition period.  This could be from transitioning out of combat, out of active duty or from just getting older.  The study says that “the majority of veterans found purpose and meaning in the military service.  It can be a struggle to find that same sense of purpose as a civilian, which ultimately leads to feelings of despair.” It calls upon the Pentagon and the VA to do a better job of assisting troubled veterans through crucial periods of transition.

Suicide thoughts are not something to mess around with. If you or someone you know is struggling with transitioning back to civilian life, or even if the transition is not the issue,  please seek help or encourage them to do the same.

More Articles

Federal Court Addresses PTSD Stressors

A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit confirms that VA must apply a generous standard when evaluating the lay testimony of veterans suffering from PTSD concerning their combat experiences and PTSD stressors. Sanchez-Navarro v....

Permanent and Total VA Disability Ratings for PTSD

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Symptoms of PTSD usually begin within three months of the...

Depression And Your VA Claim

Depression can negatively affect every aspect of your life: how you feel, think, sleep, function, and interact with others. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health Issues, about 14% of veterans suffer from depression. Depression is one of the most common...

Four Tips On How To Get The Highest PTSD Rating

If you have been fortunate enough to have been granted service connection for PTSD, then you have probably been given a disappointingly low rating.  This is a very common situation so you are not alone. The VA regularly underrates PTSD claims.  In the...


  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.