SEATTLE--August 25, 2009--Researchers working with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have found that post-traumatic stress disorder, the current most common mental disorder among veterans returning from service in the Middle East, is associated with an increased risk for thoughts of suicide.
Results of the study indicated that veterans who screened positive for PTSD were four times more likely to report suicide-related thoughts relative to veterans without the disorder. The research, published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, establishes PTSD as a risk factor for thoughts of suicide in Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. This holds true, even after accounting for other psychiatric disorder diagnoses, such as substance abuse and depression. Veterans who screened positive for PTSD and two or more comorbid mental disorders were significantly more likely to experience thoughts of suicide relative to veterans with PTSD alone.
As many as forty-six percent of veterans in the study experienced suicidal thoughts or behaviors in the month prior to seeking care, and of those veterans, three percent reported an actual attempt within four months prior to seeking the care. Suicide-related thoughts and behaviors discovered in a returning veteran who has been diagnosed with PTSD, especially in the presence of other mental disorders, may suggest an increased risk for suicide.
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Lead author Matthew Jakupcak, Ph.D. is a researcher at the Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC) as part of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. He is also a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, WA. For interview requests please contact VA Puget Sound Office of Public Affairs at (206) 764-2435 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The VA has established a 24-hour crisis hotline and routine suicide risk screening procedures for veterans reporting symptoms of PTSD and depression, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The Journal of Traumatic Stress (JTS), the official publication for the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, is an interdisciplinary forum for the publication of peer-reviewed original papers on biopsychosocial aspects of trauma. Papers focus on theoretical formulations, research, treatment, prevention education/training, and legal and policy concerns. Journal of Traumatic Stress serves as a primary reference for professionals who study and treat people exposed to highly stressful and traumatic events (directly or through their occupational roles), such as war, disaster, accident, violence or abuse (criminal or familial), hostage-taking, or life-threatening illness. The journal publishes original articles, brief reports, review papers, commentaries, and, from time to time, special issues devoted to a single topic.
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