Identifying suicidal subtypes and dynamic indicators of increasing and decreasing suicide risk in active duty military personnel: Study protocol

Contemp Clin Trials Commun. 2021 Feb 16;21:100752. doi: 10.1016/j.conctc.2021.100752. eCollection 2021 Mar.

Abstract

Objectives: Several recent studies have demonstrated that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and insomnia treatments are associated with significant reductions in suicidal ideation (SI) among service members. However, few investigations have evaluated the manner in which suicide risk changes over time among military personnel receiving PTSD or insomnia treatments. This paper describes the study protocol for a project with these aims: (1) explore potential genetic, clinical, and demographic subtypes of suicide risk in a large cohort of deployed service members; (2) explore subtype change in SI as a result of evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD and insomnia; (3) evaluate the speed of change in suicide risk; and (4) identify predictors of higher- and lower-risk for suicide.

Methods: Active duty military personnel were recruited for four clinical trials (three for PTSD treatment and one for insomnia treatment) and a large prospective epidemiological study of deployed service members, all conducted through the South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience (STRONG STAR Consortium). Participants completed similar measures of demographic and clinical characteristics and subsets provided blood samples for genetic testing. The primary measures that we will analyze are the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation, Beck Depression Inventory, and the PTSD Checklist for DSM-IV.

Discussion: Results from this study will offer new insights into the presence of discrete subtypes of suicide risk among active duty personnel, changes in risk over time among those subtypes, and predictors of subtypes. Findings will inform treatment development for military service members at risk for suicide.

Keywords: Active duty military personnel; Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Suicidal behavior; Suicidal ideation.