Nonfatal Suicidal Behaviors in the Administrative Records of Activated U.S. Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers, 2004-2009

Psychiatry. 2018 Summer;81(2):173-192. doi: 10.1080/00332747.2018.1460716. Epub 2018 Jul 20.


Objective: The U.S. Army suicide rate increased sharply during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is limited information about medically documented, nonfatal suicidal behaviors among soldiers in the Army's Reserve Component (RC), which is composed of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. Here we examine trends and sociodemographic correlates of suicide attempts, suspicious injuries, and suicide ideation among activated RC soldiers.

Methods: Data come from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) Historical Administrative Data Study (HADS), which integrates administrative records for all soldiers on active duty for the years 2004 through 2009 (n = 1.66 million).

Results: We identified 2,937 unique RC soldiers on active duty with a nonfatal suicidal event documented at some point during the HADS study period. There were increases in the annual incidence rates of suicide attempts (71 to 204/100,000 person-years) and suicide ideation (326 to 425/100,000 person-years). Incidence rates for suspicious injuries also generally increased but were more variable. Using hierarchical classification rules, we identified the first instance of each soldier's most severe behavior (suicide attempt versus suspicious injury versus suicide ideation). For each of those suicide- or injury-related outcomes, we found increased risk among those who were female, younger, non-Hispanic White, less educated, never married, and lower-ranking enlisted. These sociodemographic associations significantly differed across outcomes, although the patterns were similar.

Conclusion: Results provide a broad overview of nonfatal suicidal trends in the RC during the period 2004 through 2009. They also demonstrate that integration of multiple administrative data systems enriches analysis of the predictors of such events.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult