Are Canadian soldiers more likely to have suicidal ideation and suicide attempts than Canadian civilians?

Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Dec 1;172(11):1250-8. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq290. Epub 2010 Oct 26.


Significant controversy exists as to whether soldiers are at increased risk for suicide and suicidal behaviors compared with civilians. Furthermore, little is known about whether risk factors for suicidal behaviors in civilian populations are generalizable to soldiers. The aim of the current study is to determine whether the prevalence and correlates of past-year suicidal ideation and suicide attempts differ in Canadian soldiers when compared with Canadian civilians. The current study utilized data from the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 1.2-Canadian Forces Supplement in conjunction with the 2001-2002 Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 1.2. Logistic regression interaction models were used to explore differences between correlates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts comparing Canadian soldiers with civilians. Although there was no significant difference between the 2 samples on prevalence of past-year suicidal ideation, the prevalence of past-year suicide attempts was significantly lower in the Canadian forces sample compared with the civilian population (odds ratio = 0.41, 95% confidence interval: 0.25, 0.67). Findings suggest that suicide attempts are less common in Canadian active military personnel than in the civilian population. Possible mechanisms for these differences are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult