Suicide and Mental Health Illness Rates Higher in Soldiers than Civilians

Three new studies show there are significant numbers of U.S. soldiers suffering from some type of mental health disorder, and may be at greater risk of suicide. In both areas, the rates are higher amongst soldiers than in the general population.

Researchers at Harvard found that major depression is five times higher for soldiers than civilians and intermittent explosive (anger) disorder is six times higher. Rates were significantly higher when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with soldiers nearly 15 times more likely to suffer than civilians.

One study focusing on those enlisted in the Army found that 25 percent of active duty, non-deployed soldiers tested positive for at least one psychiatric disorder. And 11 percent had signs of more than one mental illness. But many of these psychiatric conditions existed before enlisting, including panic disorder, PTSD, major depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, ADHD, alcohol/drug abuse and intermittent explosive disorder.

In a second study, there was evidence linking mental illness prior to enlistment and suicide. In nearly 60 percent of the cases involving a suicide attempt, the soldiers had pre-existing mental disorders.

A third study looked at risk factors for suicide. Those at highest risk were white males, soldiers recently demoted and those with a junior enlisted rank (private, private 2nd class, private 3rd class and army specialist).

While these studies highlighted issues surrounding soldiers enlisting with prior mental health disorders, it continues to be a problem for those who have served—particularly those who are deployed. It’s important to note that if a physical or mental disability is connected to service, servicemembers may be entitled to veterans disability benefits.

If there are concerns about your right to benefits, contact the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group for assistance. Call us today at 855-855-8992.