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Associations Between Types of Combat Violence and the Acquired Capability for Suicide

Authors

  • Craig J. Bryan PsyD, ABPP,

    1. Craig J. Bryan, Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, TX, USA; Kelly C. Cukrowicz, Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX, USA.
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  • Kelly C. Cukrowicz PhD

    1. Craig J. Bryan, Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, TX, USA; Kelly C. Cukrowicz, Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX, USA.
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  • The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policy of the United States Government, Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, or Department of the Army.

Address correspondence to Craig J. Bryan, Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7550 IH 10 West, Suite 1325, San Antonio, TX 78229; E-mail: bryanc3@uthscsa.edu

Abstract

Research suggests that combat exposure might increase risk for suicide. The interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide (IPTS) proposes that exposure to painful and provocative experiences such as combat contribute to fearlessness about death and increased pain tolerance, which serve to enhance the individual’s capability to attempt suicide. Violent and aggressive combat experiences, in particular, should demonstrate relatively stronger associations to this capability. The current study tests this proposition in a sample of deployed active duty combatants. Results indicate that all types of combat exposure independently contribute to capability for suicide. Consistent with the IPTS, when considering all types of combat simultaneously, combat characterized by violence and high levels of injury and death are associated with relatively stronger associations to this capability.

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