Background: It is important to monitor draftees for mental disorders before or at an early stage of military service. The aim of this study was to characterize the draftees who were suspended from service for mental disorders among draftees in a high readiness military zone in the Taiwan Strait.
Method: A total of 152 draftees consulted the outpatient service of the Department of Psychiatry at Penghu branch, Tri-Service General Hospital in Taiwan during the period between August 2004 and July 2008, and whose severity of mental disorder fit the criteria for service suspension were recruited as the study group (SG). Draftees who had adjusted normally were the control group (CG).
Results: The major causes for suspension were major depressive disorders and personality disorders. In the study group, the number of draftees seeking psychiatric outpatient treatment increased from 49.3% before service to 100% during service. In addition, higher rates of suicidal ideation, suicide plans, attempted suicide, and homicidal ideation were found in the study group than in the control group. The percentages of draftees who were unwilling to serve and absent without official leave (AWOL) during military service in Penghu were also significantly higher in the study group than in the control group.
Conclusions: Based on the characteristics of the draftees who were suspended from service for mental disorders, psychological factors such as suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and adjustment disorders should be surveyed and monitored before the draft and at an early stage of military service.