Army Research Psychologists James Griffith and Mark Vaitkus published new findings that more closely define the people in the Army National Guard who have a higher potential for suicide and methods that can help prevent suicides in Army National Guard personnel in the Feb. 22, 2013, issue of the journal Armed Forces & Society.
The researchers based their findings on data from the Army National Guard's (A)RNG personnel data system, from a routine data collection of ARNG soldiers returning from deployment, and Army reserve soldiers' responses to the 2009 Status of Forces Questionnaire.
The results indicate that 17 to 24 year-olds were an average of 1.59 times more likely to have committed suicide than their older peers, that males were 3.05 times more likely to have committed suicide than females, and that white soldiers were 1.85 times more likely to have committed suicide than other race groups.
Self-identity issues were the number one problem with 17 to 24 year-olds.
Males tended to engage in more risk taking behaviors like using firearms outside of military duties and alcohol or drug abuse than females. “Men are less likely to seek or develop social support, and women benefit more from social integration than men.”
“African American communities often have better support systems, higher participation in religion, and have also been described to be more resilient in adapting to difficult life experiences.”
The researchers stress that since a large part of the National Guard service person’s time is spent in a civilian status the citizen soldier’s family and employers need to become aware of the indicators that point to a suicide risk.
The researchers ask for better screening methods to detect a potential suicide risk before that person joins the National Guard.