Personal and Professional Exposure to Suicide in Military Populations

Grants and Contracts Details


Background: There is growing evidence that exposure to the suicide of non-family members is associated with reduced mental health and suicidal behavior among those with perceptions of closeness to the decedent. In settings in which individuals live and work in close proximity, such as the military, it is likely that such perceptions of closeness are more common, and thus a large group of people are exposed and many will subsequently experience significant impact from the suicide. Only a handful of published studies have examined the prevalence and correlates of suicide exposure among military and veteran populations and none have examined the longitudinal experience of loss of a military colleague to suicide. Now that suicide exposure has been shown to be common and associated with psychiatric and suicide risk, it is imperative to distinguish the variables most associated with risk following exposure in order to identify unit members in greatest need of support and services and determine when such support will be most beneficial in reducing harm associated with exposure. The proposed study does this while by addressing the impact of military colleague suicide exposure in National Guard personnel and examining the effect of suicide exposure on personnel who directly intervene in postvention response -- behavioral health personnel & chaplains. Objective/Hypothesis:. Objective 1: To better understand the correlates and mental health outcomes of exposure to military colleague suicide in national guard personnel and how exposure effects personnel over time. Objective 2: To explore the experience of suicide exposure in military personal who assist in postvention efforts. Specific Aims: Aim 1: To determine effects over time of military colleague suicide in a sample of National Guard soldiers on functional impairment and mental health symptoms. Aim 2: To examine the contribution of personal and military-related variables on mental health and job-readiness following colleague suicide. Aim 3: To understand how personal and military variables change over time in national guard members who experienced a colleague suicide Aim 4: To understand variables related to military postvention workers person and professional experiences in responding to suicides. Aim 5: To better understand the training and support needs of military workers who provide postvention responses following suicides. Study Design:. Study objectives will be met with two interrelated studies. The first study will involve in person surveys of members of the Kentucky Army National Guard (KYANG) (n=2000) about suicide exposure, mental health symptoms, trauma history and personal and military supports. Those with occupational suicide exposure will be invited to follow up mixed method interviews immediately (n=65) and six months later (n=50). personnel. Study 2 will involve surveys and structured qualitative interviews of national guard and active duty personnel who help those bereaved by suicide, and those at risk of dying by suicide in the regular course of their jobs. These workers will include-social worker trainees and social workers, and military chaplains (n=200). Military Benefit: Study findings will help understand unique personal and military-response specific variables related to military suicide exposure in members of the national guard and postvention workers such as social workers and chaplains. This study will be useful in suggesting to leadership changes that might be needed to mitigate the long-term impact of suicide on units and prevent burnout in personnel who respond to suicides.
Effective start/end date3/30/193/30/23


  • Denver Research Institute: $1,104,521.00


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