Suicide among war veterans

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Jul;9(7):2504-19. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9072504. Epub 2012 Jul 19.


Studies aiming to identify if war veterans are at higher risk of suicide have often produced inconsistent results; this could be due to the complexity of comparisons and different methodological approaches. It should be noted that this contingent has many risk factors, such as stressful exposures, wounds, brain trauma and pain syndrome. Most recent observations confirm that veterans are really more likely to die of suicide as compared to the general population; they are also more likely to experience suicidal ideation and suffer from mental health problems. Suicides are more frequent in those who develop PTSD, depression and comorbid states due to war exposure. Combat stress and its' frequency may be an important factor leading to suicide within the frame of the stress-vulnerability model. According to this model, the effects of stress may interact with social factors, interpersonal relations and psychological variables producing suicidal tendencies. Modern understanding of stress-vulnerability mechanisms based on genetic predispositions, early life development, level of exposure to stress and stress-reactivity together with interpersonal aspects may help to build more effective suicide prevention programs based on universal/selective/indicated prevention principles.

Keywords: mental health problems; prevention; suicide; war and military services veterans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Suicide* / prevention & control
  • Veterans / psychology*
  • Warfare*