A new University of Utah study provides insight into suicide risk among veterans and military personnel.
Psychologist Craig Bryan authored the study. He says he wanted to clear up mixed results from other studies which looked at whether deployment had an impact on suicide risk.
“The mistake that has been made, I think, in our society as a whole but amongst many researchers, is assuming that deployment in and of itself is the same thing as exposure to, you know, traumatic events and combat-related traumas while deployed,” he says.
Bryan, who is executive director of the National Center for Veterans Studies and who previously served as an Air Force psychologist, says it’s important to recognize that it’s veterans’ experiences during deployment that contribute to the risk.
“Although deployment in and of itself does not seem to have a strong relationship with suicide, studies that look at whether or not a service member or veteran has been exposed to killing or exposed to death while deployed, there’s a very clear relationship with suicide,” says Bryan.
He says this knowledge can help psychologists recognize and take better care of veterans who could be at risk for suicide.