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Suicide in military settings: Combatants and veterans 

Suicide in military settings: Combatants and veterans
Suicide in military settings: Combatants and veterans

Vsevolod Rozanov

, Lars Mehlum

, and Richard Stiliha

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date: 03 July 2022

Suicide rates in military units are lower than in civilian populations and differ considerably from nation to nation. The processes that may influence suicide rates within the armed forces can be different from that of the civilian life, especially when armed forces are under reformation, downsizing and economic pressure.

Risk factors vary between groups and settings, such as active duty versus reservist/veteran or war versus peacekeeping mission. However, common risk factors are: easy access to firearms, exposure to traumatic stress, lack of social support, and the military life style with frequent relocations. Two subgroups are considered as equally important to target for suicide prevention: young conscripts and war veterans. In the first case, screening and crisis intervention are in focus, and in the second, treatments for post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and substance abuse. Leadership interventions and changes in fi rearm regulations are other preventive measures.

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