Given the spike in suicides among servicemembers over the past decade, there has been ample speculation that deployment played a role. However, a new study from the Naval Health Research Center questions the link. Researchers say that, much like in the civilian population, common conditions such as depression, substance abuse and mental illness are the biggest factors contributing to suicides in the military.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the findings are based on extensive analysis of more than 145,000 participants from every branch of the military. Study authors found that of the 78 participants who took their own lives during the seven-year study, the rate was double among subjects with depression and about four times higher in those who had bi-polar disorder.
"The findings from this study are not consistent with the assumption that specific deployment-related characteristics, such as length of deployment, number of deployments, or combat experiences, are directly associated with increased suicide risk," the authors wrote.
The Department of Defense has made significant efforts to combat mental health issues among troops in recent years. Specifically, there has been an increasing number of mental health professionals at military clinics, The Associated Press reported.