New research from the University of Manchester has revealed that the suicide risk among military veterans is no higher than that of the general population, although some people may require additional support.
Funded by the Ministry of Defence and NHS England, the study also found that veterans over 35 years of age were at a reduced risk of suicide than the general population, although younger veterans faced an increased risk, as were those cohorts who left after a short military career.
Serving for longer periods of time are associated with reduced risks, as is serving on operational tours. However, it was revealed that suicide rates were between two and four times higher for veterans under the age of 25 compared to the same age group in the general population.
Other risk factors for suicide that were identified included being male, being untrained, serving for less than ten years and being discharged before the age of 34.
Catherine Rodway, lead study author and programme manager at the national Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety, said: “While public perception and some previous studies suggest combat-related experiences are associated with suicide, our findings paint a slightly different picture.
“We found suicide was no more common than it is in the general population although risk did appear to be higher in the youngest age groups and those with short lengths of service. Deployment to a conflict actually appeared to reduce suicide risk.”
This study forms part of a wider body of research investigating veteran suicide, with families and veterans bereaved by suicide also contributing to the study design.
Are you interested in bereavement research? Get in touch with Suicide Bereavement UK to find out more.