Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More Killing Experience in War Means More Suicidal Thoughts

Variations in combat experience may be reflected later in suicidal thinking among veterans, according to Shira Maguen, Ph.D., of the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and colleagues. In their online report on Vietnam War veterans in the journal Depression and Anxiety, the researchers found that veterans with more killing experiences in the war were twice as likely to report suicidal ideation than were veterans with little or no such experience. Those with greater killing experiences who were also diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, or substance use disorders had even higher likelihood of experiencing suicidal ideation.

Understanding the factors that underlie suicidality might help save lives. For the last two years, the U.S. Armed Forces have lost more troops to suicide than to combat. “Killing experiences are not routinely examined when assessing suicide risk,” wrote Maguen and colleagues. “Our findings have important implications for conducting suicide risk assessments in veterans of war.”

To read much more about suicidality among war veterans, see Psychiatric News here. To learn the latest clinical and research findings on treating posttraumatic stress disorder, see Clinical Manual for Management of PTSD from American Psychiatric Publishing.
(Image: Tim Kornoelje/


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