A massive study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association did not find that service members who’d been deployed overseas in roles related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars committed suicide at higher rates than others. The study’s authors cautioned, however, that further research might find correlations between suicide rates and other, more specific factors, such as exposure to combat. From the New York Times:
The suicide rate for troops deployed in support of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the study found, was only slightly higher than for troops who did not deploy to that area or remained stateside — 18.86 deaths versus 17.78 deaths per 100,000. The national average is about 13 deaths per 100,000.
The study, conducted by the Defense Department’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology, covered 3.9 million military personnel who served between 2001 and 2007. It did find, perhaps not surprisingly, that individuals who did not complete their full four-year enlistement in the armed services—for reasons including injuries, disciplinary problems, and mental health conditions—were more likely to commit suicide.
Future research, the survey’s authors suggested, will study data covering factors such as combat experience, combat injuries, and combat-related mental health issues.