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August 7, 2013

Suicide, Mental Disorders, and the US Military: Time to Focus on Mental Health Service Delivery

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland
JAMA. 2013;310(5):484-485. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.92420

Suicide in the US military has been the recent focus of controversy and misunderstanding. The disappointing lack of valid and generalizable epidemiologic research from which to confidently ground clinical and policy decisions has only helped to fuel debates about the magnitude and causes of the problem and how best to approach it. Military suicides are sometimes characterized as epidemic in proportion, and many observers appear to assume that the incidence is escalating out of control as a consequence of prolonged combat and associated stress. Although a worrisome increase in the rate of military suicide has occurred since 2005, suicide in the military remains rare, a fact that leads to many challenges when trying to predict, study, and prevent suicide.