Preventing Suicides in the U.S. Military

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Abstract

In the past decade, the U.S. military has observed increased suicides among its personnel, and now, rates for the military services exceed civilian age-adjusted rates. Numerous and varied approaches to suicide prevention are now evident, though with measured success. To address this need, levels typically used in the health field to describe interventions (i.e., primary, secondary, and tertiary) are described and used. The discussion clarifies fundamental differences in the stage at which the negative health condition is intervened, and for the intervention, its purpose, target audience, and strategy aim among approaches to suicide prevention. More important current gaps and possible directions for future approaches to suicide prevention are identified. Lacking are secondary prevention approaches, in particular, those that more effectively identify those at-risk and provide access to appropriate behavioral health care. Research findings to-date suggest these would lead to decreased suicides.

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