Soldier Background and Postinvestigative Events Associated With Timing of Suicide Following Deployment of U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers

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Abstract

The present study examined the timing of suicide and its associated soldier background and postinvestigative events among deployed Army National Guard (ARNG) soldiers from calendar years 2007 through 2014. Suicide deaths were nearly equally distributed between soldiers who had been deployed and those who had not. Among those deployed, however, suicides occurred mostly 1 year or more after having returned from deployment. Soldier background and postsuicide investigative events were associated with the timing of suicide. Having more years of military service, more previous deployments, and being married were associated with in-theater suicides. Soldiers younger in age (17–24 years), single, nonprior service, and lower in rank, in addition to having parent-family conflicts, full-time employment problems, and military transition problems were associated with suicides that had occurred 1–120 days and 120–365 days since return from deployment. Soldiers aged (24–29 years), married, and higher in rank, along with more reported problems including past behavioral health conditions, postdeployment behavior health referrals, criminal behaviors, and military performance were associated with suicides that had occurred 1 year or more after return. Findings likely represent time periods of suicide vulnerability for identifiable groups of soldiers, based on soldier background and events surrounding the suicide. Practical and theoretical implications of the findings are discussed.

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