The Factors Associated with Suicide Ideation in Iranian Soldiers

Article excerpt

Objective: The study focuses on psychosocial variables related to suicide ideation in young soldiers .

Method: 1329 Soldiers were randomly selected from the Infantry Forces in different regions. All the soldiers were requested to complete the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (BSSI) as well as General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28). Data were analyzed using correlation tests.

Results: The results revealed that psychological factors, negative family background, environmental and task-related problems, and sociodemographic problems were significantly associated with suicide ideation.

Discussion: Overall, suicide ideation could be prevented if soldiers with psychosocial problems were identified and the Army officials applied appropriate methods to solve these psychological problems.

Key words: Military personnel, Suicide, Risk factors

Iran J Psychiatry 2010; 5: 97-101

Suicide is recognized as a profound public health worldwide. It appears that suicide is among the 10 leading causes of death in all ages in most countries. Many national reports and researches have confirmed that suicide prevention programs are considered a vital attempt for public health. However, to achieve this goal, it is strongly endorsed that a neurobiological and psychosocial program may be more effective for a pervasive understanding of those with high risk of suicide (1,2). Suicide represented 1.8% of the global burden of disease in 1998, and it is expected to increase to 2.4% by the year 2020. Research showed that the prevalence of suicide, especially for young adults, increased during the recent years in Iran (3,4). According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 29,199 U.S suicide deaths occurred in 1999. The rate of suicide deaths was 10.7 per 100,000. The suicide is the 8th leading cause of death for males, who outnumber female suicide deaths by 4 to 1 (5). Research showed that the prevalence rate of suicide was between 2% to 18% (6,7). Firearm suicide rate among men is approximately six times more than that of women (8).

Suicide behavior includes suicide ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicides. Suicide refers to any death through a direct or indirect result of a positive or negative act accomplished by the victim himself/herself which the victim knows or expects the result. Suicide ideation comprises a cognition process which varies from fleeting thoughts that life is worthless to an intense delusional preoccupation with self-destruction (9- 11).

It seems that several factors may be associated with increasing suicide ideation , and they are as follows: mental disorders, personality disorders, unemployment, drug abuse, family problems, and being unmarried (12, 13). Regarding military services, some other factors such as hard situations, fear of punishment, aggressive behavior (14), previous suicide attempt (15), smoking, and alcoholism (16), low rank (17), tension between officers, and being away from family (18) were related to suicide attempts.

Reports from American Army forces reveal that soldiers committed suicides at elevated rates during 2003. Reports showed that soldiers deployed to Iraq and Kuwait had suffered from suicidal attempts. During the first three months of 2004, suicide rates significantly increased among these soldiers. Based on official reports, five American soldiers killed themselves in early July 2003. The rate of committing suicide was 17.3 per 100,000 in 2003, while the overall Army's rate during the same period was 12.2 for 2003 and 11.9 for 1995 to 2002. Comparing the suicide rate in the Army with the national average, it has been shown that this figures remain lower than the national average of 21.5 per 100,000 for males aged 20 to 34 (19). Research showed that suicide attempt is (9/100000) (0.009%) among the general population, and 12/100000 or (0.012%) among the soldiers. Assessing 150395 Austrian soldiers (born between 1973-1975 years) during two years, it was found that 155 of them attempted suicide during their compulsory period of their military service (20). …