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Suicide Attempts and Suicide among Marines: A Decade of Follow-up

Authors

  • Jaimie L. Gradus DSc, MPH,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
    2. Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
    • VA Boston Healthcare System, National Center for PTSD, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Jillian C. Shipherd PhD,

    1. VA Boston Healthcare System, National Center for PTSD, Boston, MA, USA
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Michael K. Suvak PhD,

    1. VA Boston Healthcare System, National Center for PTSD, Boston, MA, USA
    2. Department of Psychology, Suffolk University, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Hannah L. Giasson BA,

    1. VA Boston Healthcare System, National Center for PTSD, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Matthew Miller MD, ScD

    1. Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
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  • This study was supported by the Department of Defense, Women's Defense Health Research Program, and was administered by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command under Grant MIPR 96MM6746, Jessica Wolfe, Principal Investigator, and by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Health Services Research and Development (IIR 04-420-2; PI Jillian Shipherd). Dr. Shipherd is a clinical psychologist at the VA Boston Healthcare System at the Women's Health Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD and an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry. The views, opinions, and findings contained in this report are the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nor should they be construed as an official position, policy, or decision of the Department of Defense, Department of the Army, or the U.S. Marine Corps unless so designated by other documentation.

Address correspondence to Jaimie L. Gradus, VA Boston Healthcare System, National Center for PTSD, 150 S. Huntington Ave, 116B-3, Boston, MA 02130; E-mail: jaimie.gradus@va.gov

Abstract

Suicidal behavior among military personnel is of paramount public health importance because of the increased risk of death from suicide in this population. Pre- and post-Marine recruit training risk factors for suicide attempts among current and former Marines were examined in 10 years following recruit training. The characteristics of the subsample of current and former Marines who died by suicide during this time are also described. Stressful and traumatic life events (e.g., childhood physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, sexual harassment during recruit training) and pre-recruit training suicide attempts emerged as having strong associations with post-recruit training attempts. Half of those who died by suicide in the 10 years following recruit training endorsed at least one significant life stressor prior to joining the Marines. This study highlights the importance of screening for stressful and potentially traumatic experiences occurring both before and during military service as part of a comprehensive suicide risk assessment in military samples.

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