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Suicide in Peacekeepers: Risk Factors for Suicide Versus Accidental Death

Authors

  • Siri Thoresen PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, in Oslo, Norway;
      Senior Researcher, Norwegian Centre for Studies on Violence and Traumatic Stress, Ltd, Kirkeveien 166, Bygning 48 (Z), 0407 Oslo, Norway; E-mail: siri.thoresen@nkvts.unirand.no
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  • Lars Mehlum MD, PhD

    1. Suicide Research and Prevention Unit at the University of Oslo.
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  • We thank Grethe Johnsen for her valuable assistance in the inter-rater reliability check of data. This study was supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence and by the Norwegian Association for Disabled War Veterans.

Senior Researcher, Norwegian Centre for Studies on Violence and Traumatic Stress, Ltd, Kirkeveien 166, Bygning 48 (Z), 0407 Oslo, Norway; E-mail: siri.thoresen@nkvts.unirand.no

Abstract

To investigate risk factors for suicide in veterans of peacekeeping, 43 suicides and 41 fatal accidents in Norwegian peacekeepers (1978 to 1995) were compared in a psychological autopsy study. Mental health problems were the most important risk factor for suicide. Both living alone and the break-up of a love relationship contributed uniquely to suicide risk, even when controlling for mental health problems. No peacekeeping-related factor was associated with suicide. Preventive measures should focus on firearms control, improved detection systems for mental health problems in the military, and peer support through veterans' associations.

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