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International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health

Editor-in-Chief: Merrick, Joav

Editorial Board Member: Birch, Diana ML / Blum, Robert W / Furniss, Tilman / Greydanus, MD, Dr. HC (Athens), Donald E. / Hardoff, Daniel / Kerr, Mike / Levy, Howard B / Morad, Mohammed / Omar, Hatim A. / de Paul, Joaquin / Rydelius, Per-Anders / Shek, Daniel T.L. / Sher, Leo / Silber, Tomas J. / Towns, Susan / Urkin, Jacob / Verhofstadt-Deneve, Leni / Zeltzer, Lonnie

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Educating medical professionals about suicide prevention among military veterans

Debora Ganz1 / 2, 3

1Ferkauf Graduate School of Clinical Psychology, Yeshiva University, NY, USA

2James J. Peters Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, NY, USA

3Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY, USA

Corresponding author: Leo Sher, MD, James J. Peters Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, 130 West Kingsbridge Road, Bronx, NY, USA, Phone: +1-718-584-9000 x 6821, Fax: +1-718-741-4703

Citation Information: International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health. Volume 25, Issue 3, Pages 187–191, ISSN (Online) 2191-0278, ISSN (Print) 0334-0139, DOI: 10.1515/ijamh-2013-0051, July 2013

Publication History:
Received:
2011-11-22
Accepted:
2011-12-28
Published Online:
2013-07-23

Abstract

The aim of this paper was to discuss the results of a review of literature related to suicide in military veteran populations. Suicide in veteran populations has been increasing in recent years, and continues to be a medical and social problem across the globe. For medical health professionals, knowledge of the risk factors for suicide, careful assessment, and appropriate interventions are key to suicide prevention. The main aim of this review is to better understand the risk factors present in veteran suicide and find ways by which to educate medical professionals in suicide prevention. Key suicide risk factors found in veteran populations include posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, physical injuries, substance use disorders, traumatic brain injury, combat-related guilt, access to firearms, and insufficient social support. Some psychosocial difficulties are unique to veteran populations, and medical professionals should be culturally sensitive to these factors. Psychosocial changes upon discharge from active duty, as well as stigma against mental health disorders and treatment, should also be considered and assessed. Given that general practitioners may be the first line of defense for these veterans, they should be educated in risk factors for veteran suicide and proper assessment techniques. Any suicide risk in a veteran population should be taken very seriously, and responded to appropriately.

Keywords: education; major depressive disorder; military; posttraumatic stress disorder; suicide; veterans

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