July 17, 2009

Study aims to reduce military suicides

A $50 million study is designed to investigate ways to reduce suicide among U.S. military personnel, researchers said.

The study funded by the U.S. Army is to be the largest of its kind every undertaken, Dr. John Mann of Columbia University Medical Center said in a release Friday.

Mann is to be assisted by Dr. Robert Ursano of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.; Dr. Steven Heeringa of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Dr. Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass.

Suicide rates among Army personnel have risen significantly since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reversing a trend in which suicide rates historically had been lower among soldiers than among civilians, Mann said.

The 5-year study is to survey 90,000 active Army troops and the 80,000 to 120,000 troops expected to enter the Army in each of the first three years of the study, Mann said.