SUICIDE AND SUICIDAL IDEATION
In recent years, suicide and suicidal ideation, or thoughts of suicide, have become an increasing concern for veterans, service members, and their families. According to a 2014 report by the Department of Defense, there were 1,080 suicide attempts (245 suicides) among active-duty service members for all armed services in calendar year 2013. A recent study of 52,780 active-duty members of the U.S. Air Force found that 3 percent of male participants and 5.2 percent of female participants reported suicidal ideation in the previous year. Of the participants that reported suicidal ideation, 8.7 percent also reported a recent suicide attempt. Veterans who screened positive for PTSD were 4 times more likely to report suicidal ideation than veterans who did not, and the likelihood of suicidal ideation was 5.7 times greater in veterans who screened positive for PTSD and two or more comorbid disorders.
Over 2 million Americans have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade and increasing numbers are returning home with complex mental and behavioral health challenges.
WAR’S INVISIBLE WOUNDS
Data indicate that one-third of returning Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) service members have reported symptoms of mental health or cognitive problems. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Known as the “signature wounds” of OEF and OIF, the IOM reports that the prevalence of these conditions among returning service members range from 19.5 percent to 22.8 percent for TBI3 , and up to 24.4 percent for PTSD. 77.3 percent of active-duty service members hospitalized for PTSD had a comorbid mental health diagnosis, and this percentage increased every year from 2006-2012.
“Previous wars have demonstrated that veterans’ needs peak several decades after their war service, highlighting the necessity of managing current problems and planning for future needs.
MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA (MST)
MST has become an important risk factor for PTSD. National data indicate that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men responded “yes” that they experienced MST, when screened by their VA provider.5 For women, it is estimated that female veterans who have a history of MST are nine times more likely to develop PTSD comp