Impact News

Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

Rising unemployment will lead to a rise in suicide rates

Rising unemployment will lead to a rise in suicide rates across Europe unless preventative action is taken, a study says

The stress triggered by job losses could see suicides rise across Europe if governments fail to take preventative action, a new study claims.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London and the University of Oxford examined economic downturns over the past 30 years and concluded that when unemployment rose by 3%, there was a corresponding increase of 4.5% in the number of suicides among people under 65.

In the study published today in medical journal the Lancet, the authors conclude that people who lose their jobs during a recession are at greater risk of suicide – and that for the least well-educated, the risks are even higher.

However, governments can help by providing social security safety nets, and programmes to help people cope with redundancy and get back to work.

Researcher David Stuckler said that while the study found differences between how countries classified and measured suicide, it was possible to look at how governments could reduce the likelihood of suicide during an economic crisis.

“Governments might be able to protect their populations specifically by budgeting for measures that keep people employed. This is a complex issue but we can see what has happened and hopefully use this to work out what to do about it.”

Joe Ferns, deputy director of the Samaritans, welcomed the report. “People who are unemployed are two to three times more likely to die by suicide than people who have jobs, because unemployment can lead to anxiety, depression, lowered self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness – all of which increase the likelihood that someone will think that life is not worth living,” he said.

Dr David Gunnell, a professor of epidemiology at the university of Bristol, cautioned against over-simplifying the link with unemployment. “Suicides are the tip of a much larger iceberg of emotional distress caused by job loss and economic hardship. It is important to appreciate that the causes of suicide are complex and most people who lose their jobs do not end their lives.”

Filed under: Suicide, , , ,

A new scheme trains adults in ‘first aid’ for young people who turn to them in a time of crisis

Emotional rescue

Lucy is explaining why she didn’t go to school today. “I just couldn’t get up. I wasn’t being lazy. I just felt as if every bit of me has been filled with weighted blocks of sadness.” She is at a point of crisis and has singled you out to tell about her mounting depression. What do you do?

This scenario is one of a number of filmed true accounts of young people’s struggles with emotional distress, their sadness, fear, shame and anger – which are a key ingredient in a training scheme being pioneered in Southampton. The idea is to make sure young people get support from the first person they confide in about their troubles.

In most cases, such people will not have specialist medical knowledge. Those who have taken the first Emotional First Aid (EFA) training have included teachers and teaching assistants, youth workers and student support officers.

“The course’s aim is not to create experts in adolescent mental health but to help people recognise that they have an invaluable role in assisting young people in need,” explains family therapist Dave Smith, one of EFA’s designers. “Sometimes their involvement will be enough, getting the young person back on track, but even if more specialist services have to be mobilised, then there’s a part for an EFA-trained adult to play in supporting the young person through the process.”

This is an aspect of the training that Paul Jetten particularly appreciates as an outreach worker with the national charity Fairbridge in Solent, his focus being young people whose lives are often already seriously troubled. “I have already seen the EFA training come good in my work with a teenager with anger-management problems. I was honest and explained that I didn’t have all the answers, but I was happy to work together with her trying to get them. She has really responded.”

Barbara Inkson, children and adolescent mental health manager for Southampton’s city primary care trust, says: “EFA needs to be seen in the context of a broader policy of trying to ‘roll-back’ help for young people so that they get the early interventions they often need to stop their problems developing into severe kinds of illness.”

The trust has championed a multi-agency scheme offering young people a short burst of specialist counselling – often all they need to turn their lives around. For seasoned campaigners such as Dr Andrew McCulloch, head of the Mental Health Foundation, the scheme is an exemplary means of alleviating some of the “referrals congestion” that besets most children and adolescent mental health services nationwide. Young people are saved the agony of long waits for appointments – crucial time lost, during which their mental health often deteriorates.

McCulloch is also impressed by EFA: “It is essential to help young people before they get stuck, and equipping those adults that young people might turn to first for help is a sensible step.”

His use of the word “stuck” is significant. “Among the most important lessons we teach,” says Stuart Gemmel, strategic lead for primary mental health in the town and one of the creators of the approach, “is that young people’s behaviour, however distressing, is often their solution to their problems. We also emphasise the notion of ‘stuckness’ – the fact that self-harm, not eating or drug-taking may offer temporary relief, and there is a danger that they come to dominate a young person’s life.”

For Linda Tanner, the special education needs co-ordinator at St George Catholic voluntary aided college in Southampton, this aspect of the EFA training has already borne fruit. “Thanks to that simple word ‘stuck’, I have been able to move a huge distance with a young boy who is very withdrawn,” she says. “The concept seemed to click with him and he started to open up to me. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to address this with him had I not had the EFA experience.”

Gemmel says there is a responsibility for institutions, too, to offer staff the kind of support workers in health services receive in the form of proper “supervision” – the chance to discuss their case load. “Without the proper structures in place, there’s a real danger people can be left exposed when it comes to the kinds of powerful two-way transference that can go on in any human interaction, but particularly so in a counselling situation.”

The EFA training devotes one of its six two-and-a-half hour sessions to addressing the importance of the adults looking after themselves.

“Among our next moves,” says Gemmel, “is to provide the EFA training to new audiences such as carers or those working with certain minorities.”

NHS Innovations South East is working to develop EFA into a national brand. Karen Underwood, a spokeswoman for the organisation, says a recent posting advertising the next round of EFA training brought 300 applicants in just a few hours: “We don’t see that level of enthusiasm for something new in the NHS every day.”

Filed under: Other Mental Health, , , , ,

7 Year-Old Boy Is Youngest Case Of Suicide Attempt

A new medical report calls for caution following the recent case of a boy who tried to hang himself after watching a hanging depicted in a fictional film. This seems to be the first case of attempted copycat suicide in a child under 10 years old. Exposure to suicidal behaviour in the media has been strongly linked to copycat suicide attempts but never in someone so young. This case warns of the potential danger to young people who are exposed to suicide even when it is fictional, and exposes the previously ignored role of attention deficit and impulsive behavioural traits on suicide.

The case report, published in Cases Journal, describes how a seven year-old Iranian boy was found by his mother, semi-conscious, lying down with a torn band around his neck. It was apparent that the boy had hanged himself after watching a scene in a fictional film in which four soldiers were hanged before being rescued and escaping. The boy was taken to hospital and treated effectively.

There was no history of depression or anxiety in the boy and his medical record was insignificant. The boy’s family history also displayed no suicidal tendencies. However, the boy was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (“ADHD”) and had a tendency for impulsive behaviour. Although the roles of anxiety and depression in suicide have been well documented, there has been no research into the role of ADHD and impulsivity in such cases, and these should be considered by doctors in future.

Cases Journal publishes case reports from medical professionals from all over the world. As an online journal, it does not have the space constraints of traditional medical journals, and allows the publication of a very broad range of cases. Typically, an important case such as this might never have achieved public exposure due to the high barriers to publication in major journals.

More information about Cases Journal can be found on the website: Cases Journal is a peer-reviewed, open access journal. The editor-in-chief is Richard Smith, previously known for his role as editor of the British Medical Journal, and he is supported by an international editorial board. Unlike traditional medical journals, Cases Journal publishes any case report that is understandable, ethical and complete – the perceived interest level, or rarity of the case is not important. The journal’s ethos is that every case is important, just as every patient is important, and we can learn something from every case report.

All case reports published in the journal will be included in the forthcoming Cases Database, which will allow doctors to search all case reports to find those relevant to their practice. As an open access journal, all case reports are free for anyone to download without subscription.

Cases Journal

Filed under: Suicide, , , ,

Suicide: The Risk Factors

Date: 19 Apr 2009 – 0:00 PDT

There are many factors which can increase the risk of suicide – including being male, previous self-harm, psychiatric and/or drug/alcohol disorders, upbringing, exposure to suicide in the media, and smoking. Among employed people, doctors (particularly women), vets, nurses, dentists and farmers are all at increased risk – because they have easy access to drugs or poisons which can be used for suicide. In a Seminar in this week’s edition of The Lancet, Professor Keith Hawton, Centre for Suicide Research, University of Oxford, UK, and Professor Kees van Heeringen, Unit for Suicide Research, University Hospital, Gent, Belgium, discuss these trends. An estimated one million people die from suicide each year, equating to one every 40 seconds – but suspected under-reporting in many countries means this is probably a big under-estimate. Suicide accounts for 1.5% of deaths worldwide and is the tenth leading cause of death. Within Europe, rates are generally higher in northern countries than in southern countries. An effect of latitude on suicide rates was found in Japan, suggesting an influence of the daily amounts of sunshine on suicide. However, countries at about the same latitude, such as the UK and Hungary, can have substantially different rates of suicide. Suicide is a major concern in former Soviet states. More than 30% of suicides worldwide happen in China, where 3.6% of all deaths are by suicide. In developed countries, the male-to-female ratio for suicide is between two and four to one, and this seems to be increasing. Asian countries typically show much lower male-to-female ratios, but these might also be increasing; although in China more women than men die by suicide. Suicide rates are highest in elderly people in most countries, but in the past 50 years rates have risen in young people, particularly men. Suicide rates peak in Spring, especially among men. People born in spring or early summer, particularly women, are at increased risk of suicide. European Americans have higher suicide rates than Hispanic or African Americans, though this gap is narrowing due to increased suicides in young black people. Indigenous populations, eg, Aboriginies in Australia and Native Americans, have higher suicide rates, possibly due to cultural/societal marginalisation and higher levels of alcohol abuse. Suicide rates are, not surprisingly, higher in unemployed than employed people – in part, high rates are associated with mental illness, which is also associated with unemployment. Among people in employment, some occupational groups are at increased risk of suicide. Medical practitioners have a high risk in most countries, but female doctors are generally most at risk. Nurses also have a high risk. In both these professional groups, access to poisons seems to be an important factor in determining the high rates. Among doctors, anaesthetists are particularly at risk, with anaesthetic drugs being used in many suicide deaths. Several other high-risk occupational groups (eg, dentists, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons, and farmers) also have easy access to means for suicide. In general, men tend to choose more violent means for suicide (eg, hanging or shooting) and women less violent methods (eg, self-poisoning). Different populations use differing suicide methods, eg, women in South Asia commonly set fire to themselves to commit suicide. Access to specific methods might be the factor that leads to translation of suicidal thoughts into action. In the USA, firearms are used in most suicides, with risk of their use being highest where guns are kept in households. In rural areas of many developing countries, ingestion of pesticides is the main method of suicide, reflecting toxicity, easy availability, and poor storage. As many as 30% of global suicide deaths may involve ingestion of pesticides. Mental health problems are a major factor in suicide. Some 90% of people who take their own life are believed to have some kind of psychiatric disorder. Depression increases the risk of suicide by 15 to 20 times, and about 4% of people with depression die by suicide. Clinical predictors of suicide in depressed people include previous self-harm, hopelessness, and suicidal tendencies. Around 10-15% of patients with bi-polar disorder die by suicide, with risk at its highest during the early part of the illness. Some 5% of people with schizophrenia also die by suicide. Alcohol misuse, anorexia nervosa, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and body dismorphic disorder all increase suicide risk – wit the last example partly explaining why risk increases in women after breast enlargement surgery. Physical health also plays its part, but with some strange findings. Surprisingly, while people with higher-body mass index are at increased risk of depression, they have a lower risk of suicide (15% decrease in suicide risk for each 5 kg / m2 increase in body-mass index). The reasons for this are unknown. Cancer, particularly of the head and neck, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and a range of other conditions also increase suicide risk. Other factors that can increase suicide risk include physical and sexual abuse throughout childhood, population-wide events such as natural disasters and deaths of celebrities. Suicide rates rose by 17%* following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, with the increase being more pronounced in women in her age group. War decreases suicide risk, perhaps due to the social cohesion it can create in communities. People bereaved by suicide are themselves at increased risk, and clusters of suicides can happen in communities or through internet contact. The authors add: “A substantial body of evidence indicates that certain types of media reporting and portrayal of suicidal behaviour can influence suicide and self-harm in the general population.” Post-mortems of suicide deaths have shown changes to the central neurotransmission functions, for example to the serotonin (mood-improving hormone) system. Low cholesterol concentrations are associated with increased suicide risk, but the risk is higher when low cholesterol has been achieved through diet rather than statins. The authors speculate this could be because people who diet are more at risk of mental health problems, but say there is little evidence to back this. Family history of suicide at least doubles the risk of suicide for girls and women. Suicide occurs in tandem more in identical twins compared with non-identical twins. While evidence is limited, high levels of lifetime aggression are associated with a high risk of suicide, while impulsivity also increases the risk. Suicide rates rise throughout teenage years, especially in boys, and family ‘transmission’ of suicide risk occurs, especially on the maternal side. Prevention of suicide is a difficult concept due to high number of factors involved, but strategies can target high risk groups or aim to reduce the risk to the population as a whole. Each person with depression should be screened for suicide risk by specifically asking about suicidal thoughts and plans. The authors say: “In cases of high or imminent suicide risk, immediate action is needed, including vigilance and supervision of patients, perhaps through hospitalisation, removal of potential methods of suicide, and initiation of vigorous treatment of associated psychiatric disorder.” They also discuss a recent meta-analysis of randomised trials which suggested that the risk of death and suicide in people with mood disorders was reduced by 60% in those taking lithium. Removal of means used for suicide is important in management of individuals, and modification of general access to dangerous means can also be effective in suicide prevention at the population level. The authors say: “One striking example of the effect of availability of a common means of suicide was the large reduction in suicides following the change of the UK gas supply from toxic coal gas, the most common method used for suicide during the early 1960s, to non-toxic North Sea gas.” Introduction of safety barriers on bridges and increased gun control can also decrease the risk of suicide, as can safer storage of pesticides and poisons, especially in rural areas of developing nations. School programmes to improve mental wellbeing, and more stringent control of media reporting of suicide could also have a preventive effect. The authors conclude: “Future research must focus on the development and assessment of empirically based suicide-prevention and treatment protocols. The challenges of preventing suicide in developing countries need particular attention, because most research comes from developed countries, but most deaths by suicides happen in developing countries. “Suicide” Prof Keith Hawton DSc, Prof Kees van Heeringen PhD The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9672, Pages 1372 – 1381, 18 April 2009 Source The Lancet

Filed under: Other Mental Health, Suicide, , ,

Study Links Increased Risk Of Suicidal Behaviour In Adults To Sleep Problems

Article Date: 01 Apr 2009 – 6:00 PDT

Adults who suffer chronic sleep problems may face an increased risk of suicidal behaviour, new research indicates.

In a study to be presented on April 1, 2009 at the World Psychiatric Association international congress “Treatments in Psychiatry,” scientists found that the more types of sleep disturbances people had, the more likely they were to have thoughts of killing themselves, engage in planning a suicidal act or make a suicide attempt.

“People with two or more sleep symptoms were 2.6 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than those without any insomnia complaints,” said the study’s leader, Dr. Marcin Wojnar, a research fellow at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan in the United States and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 877,000 people worldwide die by suicide every year. The UN health agency says surveys indicate that for every death by suicide, anywhere from 10-40 suicide attempts are made.

“Identifying those at high risk of suicide is important for preventing it and these findings indicate that insomnia may be a modifiable risk factor for suicide in the general population,” Wojnar said. “This has implications for public health as the presence of sleep problems should alert doctors to assess such patients for a heightened risk of suicide even if they don’t have a psychiatric condition. Our findings also raise the possibility that addressing sleep problems could reduce the risk of suicidal behaviours.”

Scientists have consistently linked sleep disturbances to an increased risk of suicidal behaviour in people with psychiatric disorders and in adolescents, but it has been unclear whether the association also exists in the general adult population.

In the study, the broadest and most rigorously conducted of its kind, scientists examined the relationship over one year between three characteristics of insomnia (difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep and waking at least two hours earlier than desired) and three suicidal behaviours (suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts) in 5,692 Americans. About 35 percent of those studied reported experiencing at least one type of sleep disturbance in the preceding 12 months.

The most consistent link was seen for early morning awakening, which was related to all suicidal behaviours. People with this problem were twice as likely as those with no sleep problems to have had suicidal thoughts in the preceding 12 months, 2.1 times more likely to have planned suicide and 2.7 times more likely to have tried to kill themselves.

Difficulty falling asleep was a significant predictor of suicidal thoughts and planning. Compared with people who reported no sleep problems, those who had trouble initiating sleep had 1.9 times the risk of suicidal ideas and 2.2 times the risk of planning suicide.

People who had trouble sleeping through the night – waking up nearly every night and taking an hour or more to get back to sleep were twice as likely to have thought of suicide in the last year and were three times more likely to have attempted it than those who had no sleep problems.

The results were adjusted for several factors known to influence suicide, including substance abuse, depression, anxiety disorder and other mood disorders, as well as chronic medical conditions such as stroke, heart disease, lung disease and cancer. They were also adjusted for the influence of sociodemographic factors such as age, gender, and marital and financial status.

How sleep disturbance might increase the risk of suicide is still poorly understood, Wojnar said. Scientists have proposed that insufficient sleep may affect cognitive function and lead to poorer judgement, less impulse control and increased hopelessness. A dysfunction involving serotonin a brain chemical involved in mood regulation that plays an important role in sleep, psychiatric disorders and suicide is also suspected.

Further research is needed to determine whether other sleep problems, such as sleep apnoea (interrupted breathing during sleep) and non-restorative sleep, where people feel unrefreshed after an adequate amount of sleep, are also associated with suicidal behaviour, Wojnar added.

The study was funded by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the US National Institute of Mental Health.

World Psychiatric Association

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Reducing Suicidal Behaviors Among Adolescents

ScienceDaily (Mar. 15, 2009) — Adolescent girls who view themselves as too fat may display more suicidal behaviors than those who are actually overweight, according to a study by Inas Rashad, an assistant professor of economics at Georgia State University.

Although studies have shown a link between obesity, depressive disorders and suicidal behaviors, Rashad and Dhaval Dave of Bentley University, analyze these indicators in conjunction with an individual’s perception of their weight. The study, which was accepted for publication in February, will be published in Social Science and Medicine.

“Both obesity and suicide have been highlighted by the Surgeon General as areas of focus for adolescents and areas of great concern,” Rashad said. “We find that the role perception has independently of actual overweight status is an important one, which has implications in terms of any solutions to the obesity epidemic that are put forth.”

The researchers utilized data from 1999 to 2007 from the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System, which indicated that 17 percent of high school students have seriously considered committing suicide. The data were used to not only investigate whether overweight status or perception are causal factors affecting suicidal thoughts and attempts among high school students, but also to estimate the potential economic costs.

“If being overweight not only imposes the usual health care and labor market costs, but also increases the risk of suicide, we need to take these costs into account when offering solutions,” Rashad said.

The study revealed that body dissatisfaction had a strong impact on all suicidal behaviors for girls and was generally insignificant for males. For instance, any perception of being overweight by girls raised the probability of suicidal thoughts by 5.6 percent, the probability of a suicide attempts by 3.2 percent, and the probability of an injury causing suicide attempts by 0.6 percent. The researchers also state that the risk of suicide by adolescent females could potentially add about $280 to $350 million to the costs of adolescent obesity, which includes the direct cost of illnesses and associated health care and indirect costs such as productivity losses, reduced income and premature mortality.

Rashad hopes more research will be done on the topic, but she recommends efforts aimed at preventing youth suicides focus on educating youths and fostering healthy attitudes with regard to weight.

“The prevalence of body dissatisfaction, among special populations of youths such as non-black girls, is significantly higher than the general youth population, even when the underlying weight is in a healthy range,” Rashad said. “Interventions that identify and assist these youths and educate them regarding a healthy body image will succeed in lowering suicide attempts.”
Adapted from materials provided by Georgia State University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Filed under: Suicide, , , , ,

Risk Factors For Suicidal Events Found Among Adolescents With Treatment-Resistant Depression

19 Feb 2009
Family conflict, drug or alcohol use and pre-existing suicidal thoughts were the strongest predictors of suicidal events among adolescents whose depression treatment was changed after a lack of response to a previous medication.

The findings were reported today in the article “Predictors of Spontaneous and Systematically Assessed Suicidal Adverse Events in the Treatment of SSRI-Resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA) Study,” at AJP in Advance, the online advance edition of The American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP), the official journal of the American Psychiatric Association.

In the study, 334 adolescent patients who had not responded to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) were switched to a different SSRI or to venlafaxine, with or without cognitive-behavioral therapy. Forty-eight patients experienced a suicidal event-suicidal ideation (new or worsening), a suicidal threat or a suicide attempt. The median time from a suicidal threat to a suicidal event was three weeks. In the AJP article, lead author David Brent, M.D., and colleagues recommend careful monitoring of more severely depressed adolescent patients who have high levels of suicidal thoughts or family conflict.

Treatments that target family conflict and emotion regulation early may help reduce suicidal events. Likewise, since the predictors of suicidal events also predict poor treatment response, targeting family conflict, suicidal ideation and drug use may hasten response and help to reduce the incidence of these events. TORDIA is sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health. Any other funding the authors may have received is disclosed in the article itself.

The American Journal of Psychiatry is the official journal of the American Psychiatric Association. Statements in this press release or the articles in the Journal are not official policy statements of the American Psychiatric Association.

About the American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose more than 38,000 physician members specialize in diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders. Visit the APA at and

Filed under: Other Mental Health, Suicide, , , , ,

Suicide & Self-Harm – Individual Places Available on Course in Nottingham

There are still a few places available on the “Razor’s Edge” course in Nottingham. If you are interested, the course is on 23-24th March 2009 and is organised by Nottingham HLG. You can book via the HLG website:

Or contact HLG’s Training Co-ordinator on 0115 956 5313 or email

Information about the course can be found at:

Filed under: Impact Training, self-harm, Suicide, , ,

Army suicides at record high, passing civilians

– January 29, 2009

WASHINGTON – Stressed by war and long overseas tours, U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year at the highest rate on record, the toll rising for a fourth straight year and even surpassing the suicide rate among comparable civilians. Army leaders said they were doing everything they could think of to curb the deaths and appealed for more mental health professionals to join and help out.

At least 128 soldiers committed suicide in 2008, the Army said Thursday. And the final count is likely to be even higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated.

“Why do the numbers keep going up? We cannot tell you,” said Army Secretary Pete Geren. “We can tell you that across the Army we’re committed to doing everything we can to address the problem.”

It’s all about pressure and the military approach, said Kim Ruocco, 45, whose Marine husband was an officer and Cobra helicopter pilot who hanged himself in a California hotel room in 2005. That was one month before he was to return to Iraq a second time.

She said her husband, John, had completed 75 missions in Iraq and was struggling with anxiety and depression but felt he’d be letting others down if he sought help and couldn’t return.

“He could be any Marine because he was highly decorated, stable, the guy everyone went to for help,” Ruocco said in a telephone interview. “But the thing is … the culture of the military is to be strong no matter what and not show any weakness.”

Ruocco, of Newbury, Mass., was recently hired to be suicide support coordinator for the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. She said she feels that the military has finally started to reach out to suicide survivors and seek solutions.

“Things move slowly, but I think they’re really trying,” Ruocco said.

At the Pentagon on Thursday, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the Army surgeon general, made a plea for more professionals to sign on to work for the military.

“We are hiring and we need your help,” she said.

Military leaders promised fresh prevention efforts will start next week.

The new suicide figure compares with 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006 and is the highest since current record-keeping began in 1980. Officials expect the deaths to amount to a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers, which is higher than the civilian rate – when adjusted to reflect the Army’s younger and male-heavy demographics – for the first time in the same period of record-keeping.

Officials have said that troops are under unprecedented stress because of repeated and long tours of duty due to the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yearly increases in suicides have been recorded since 2004, when there were 64 – only about half the number now. Officials said they found that the most common factors were soldiers suffering problems with their personal relationships, legal or financial issues and problems on the job.

But the magnitude of what the troops are facing in combat shouldn’t be forgotten, said Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., a former Navy vice admiral, who noted he spoke with a mother this week whose son was preparing for his fifth combat tour.

“This is a tough battle that the individuals are in over there,” Sestak said. “It’s unremitting every day.”

Said Dr. Paul Ragan, an associate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and a former Navy psychiatrist: “Occasional or sporadic visits by military mental health workers are like a Band-Aid for a gushing wound.”

The statistics released Thursday cover soldiers who killed themselves while they were on active duty – including National Guard and Reserve troops who had been activated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the suicide rate for U.S. society overall was about 11 per 100,000 in 2004, the latest year for which the agency has figures. But the Army says the civilian rate is more like 19.5 per 100,000 when adjusted.

An earlier report showed the Marine Corps recorded 41 possible or confirmed suicides in 2008 – about 19 per 100,000 troops.

The military’s numbers don’t include deaths after people have left the services. The Department of Veterans Affairs tracks those numbers and says there were 144 suicides among the nearly 500,000 service members who left the military from 2002-2005 after fighting in at least one of the two ongoing wars.

On the Net:

Army suicide prevention

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Filed under: Suicide, trauma, Violence, , , ,

Razors Edge – Working with People who Self-Harm – 5 Places in Nottingham

This course hosted by Nottingham HLG is being held on Mon 23 & Tues 24 March 2009. Currently there are 5 places left. If you are interested go to:

or book at

Email: Online: Phone: 0115 8599525

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