Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 161–167 | Cite as

Suicide Exposure and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Is Marriage a Protective Factor for Veterans?

  • David A. WeisenhornEmail author
  • Laura M. Frey
  • Judy van de Venne
  • Julie Cerel
Original Paper


Alarming numbers of military veterans end their lives each day which has a profound effect on the military population. This study examines a sample (N = 434) of suicide-exposed (i.e., personally knowing someone who has died by suicide) veterans to determine whether the proportion of individuals who report high impact from suicide exposure and those who have clinically-significant posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms is related to marital status. Using Hill’s (Social Casework 49: 139–150, 1958) ABC-X model for conceptualizing the relationships between variables, mean scores for posttraumatic stress disorder were significantly different between groups, and the odds of a married veteran reporting high-impact suicide exposure were 2.19 times lower than the odds of a single veteran reporting high-impact. Likewise, the odds of a veteran with high-impact suicide exposure having clinically-significant posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were 10.04 times higher than veterans with low-impact suicide exposure. Findings indicate that veterans who are married are less likely to be highly-affected by another individual’s suicide. Thus, marriage is a protective factor for suicide-exposed veterans.


Military PTSD Suicide Suicide exposure Veteran 



This work was in part supported by the Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC), an effort supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs under Award Nos. W81XWH-10-2-0178 and W81XWH-10-2-0181. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the MSRC or the Department of Defense.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All research results described in this study were approved by the Office of Integrity at the University of Kentucky. IRB approval was given to implement all research activities under the protocol # 12-0148-P2H. The approved protocol provided a waiver of documentation of consent. Participants verbally indicated consent for the phone survey and clicked a link indicating that they read and understood the consent information for the web-survey.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Family Science DepartmentUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Kent School of Social WorkUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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