Suicide Exposure and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Is Marriage a Protective Factor for Veterans?

David A. Weisenhorn, Laura M. Frey, Judy van de Venne, Julie Cerel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Alarming numbers of military veterans end their lives each day which has a profound effect on the military population. This study examines a sample (N = 434) of suicide-exposed (i.e., personally knowing someone who has died by suicide) veterans to determine whether the proportion of individuals who report high impact from suicide exposure and those who have clinically-significant posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms is related to marital status. Using Hill’s (Social Casework 49: 139–150, 1958) ABC-X model for conceptualizing the relationships between variables, mean scores for posttraumatic stress disorder were significantly different between groups, and the odds of a married veteran reporting high-impact suicide exposure were 2.19 times lower than the odds of a single veteran reporting high-impact. Likewise, the odds of a veteran with high-impact suicide exposure having clinically-significant posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were 10.04 times higher than veterans with low-impact suicide exposure. Findings indicate that veterans who are married are less likely to be highly-affected by another individual’s suicide. Thus, marriage is a protective factor for suicide-exposed veterans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-167
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was in part supported by the Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC), an effort supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs under Award Nos. W81XWH-10-2-0178 and W81XWH-10-2-0181. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the MSRC or the Department of Defense.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Military
  • PTSD
  • Suicide
  • Suicide exposure
  • Veteran

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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