Suicide attempt more likely among women, combat medics, soldiers with anxiety disorder

13 Nov 2021
Suicide attempt more likely among women, combat medics, soldiers with anxiety disorder

The risk of suicide attempt is highest in the first 30 days following ideation diagnosis and is more common among women, combat medics, and soldiers with an anxiety disorder diagnosis prior to suicidal ideation and a same-day sleep disorder diagnosis, suggests a US study of army soldiers.

On the other hand, the risk is decreased among Black soldiers and those with a same-day anxiety disorder diagnosis.

A team of investigators identified 11,178 active-duty Regular Army enlisted soldiers (2006–2009) with medically documented suicidal ideation and no prior medically documented suicide attempts using administrative data from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers.

Risk factors for suicide attempt within 30 days of first suicidal ideation were examined using logistic regression analyses, including sociodemographic and service-related characteristics, psychiatric diagnoses, physical healthcare visits, injuries, and history of family violence or crime perpetration or victimization.

A total of 830 (7.4 percent) soldiers with first documented suicidal ideation attempted suicide, of whom 387 (46.3 percent) did so within 30 days (rate, 35.4 per 1,000 soldiers).

After a series of multivariate analyses, the final model identified the following as being more likely to attempt suicide within 30 days: females (odds ratio [OR], 1.3, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.0–1.8), combat medics (OR, 1.6, 95 percent CI, 1.1–2.2), individuals with an anxiety disorder diagnosis prior to suicidal ideation (OR, 1.3, 95 percent CI, 1.0–1.6), and those who received a sleep disorder diagnosis on the same day as the recorded suicidal ideation (OR, 2.3, 95 percent CI, 1.1–4.6).

Conversely, Black soldiers (OR, 0.6, 95 percent CI, 0.4–0.9) and those who received an anxiety disorder diagnosis on the same day as suicidal ideation (OR, 0.7, 95 percent CI, 0.5–0.9) were less likely to attempt suicide.

“These factors may help identify soldiers at imminent risk of suicide attempt,” the investigators said.

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