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Support Systems: How Post-Deployment Support Impacts Suicide Risk Factors in the United States Army National Guard

Abstract

Suicide rates within the military have continued to rise in recent years, resulting in re-doubled efforts to understand and remedy this trend. In an attempt to clarify unique pathways to suicide risk in this population, the current study examined the relationship between length of time since most recent deployment and several suicide risk factors (hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and resolved plans and preparations). Furthermore, this study examined the moderating influence of post-deployment social support in the prediction of suicide risk. Results indicated that the interaction of time since deployment and post-deployment support predicted both hopelessness and resolved plans and preparations, but did not predict suicidal ideation. These findings suggest that the negative effects of time spent away from recognized military support may be compounded by the isolating effect of decreased access to alternative supports at home, resulting in increased hopelessness and/or resolved plans and preparations. Implications for the necessity of improved post-deployment programs are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

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 No. (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.

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Correspondence to Michael D. Anestis.

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Rachel L. Martin, Claire Houtsma, Bradley A. Green, Michael D. Anestis declare that they have no conflict of interest, financial or otherwise.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with relevant regulatory bodies. Informed consent was obtained from all participants prior to participation in the protocol.

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No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

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Martin, R.L., Houtsma, C., Green, B.A. et al. Support Systems: How Post-Deployment Support Impacts Suicide Risk Factors in the United States Army National Guard. Cogn Ther Res 40, 14–21 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-015-9719-z

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Keywords

  • Suicide
  • Military
  • Hopelessness