About one in five US soldiers have been found to have a common mental illness such as depression or panic disorder upon enlisting in the Army, according to a new study.
The initial three studies in an extensive research initiative to better comprehend US military suicides are released. It indicates that some patterns in military suicide clearly reflects the mental health problems in the civilian population.
The study, published in two papers in JAMA Psychiatry on Monday, has raised questions over the military’s assessment and screening of recruits, as well as concerns over a lack of treatment. The research was based on surveys and interviews with 5,428 soldiers at Army bases across the US. The third study focused on military suicide utilizing historic information.
The most common disorder found was intermittent explosive disorder. It was calculated to be six times the civilian rate. Pre-enlistment rates of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse were found to be close to civilian rates.
Harvard University’s Matthew Nock, psychologist and leader of the suicide study, said that over 30 percent of suicide attempts after enlistment would not have occurred if the Army had excluded recruits who were found to have pre-existing psychiatric disorders.
As a result in an increase in suicides, research began in 2009, led by the Army and the National Institutes of Mental Health. The suicide rate nearly tripled during a period from January 2004 to December 2009. The amount of soldiers who had attempted suicide went up from 1.1 percent to 2.4 percent, though the study did not explain a possible cause. The rate kept on rising until 2013, when it dropped back again to 2011 rates.
Nock recommends stricter screening standards for recruits. He said these issues should be identified in a better way and focus should be on proper avoidance and mediation activities.