No Greater Risk Of Suicide Found Among Veterans, Researchers Find

13 May 2017, 12:29

Glasgow University

People who have served in the Armed Forces in the last 50 years are not at greater risk of suicide than those who have not, according to a new study.

However there is an increased risk in certain groups, the University of Glasgow study found.

Recent UK studies have generally shown veterans to be at no greater risk than the general public, whilst both Falklands and Gulf War veterans have been shown to have a lower risk of suicide.

The new research analysed the long-term risks of suicide in veterans living in Scotland who served between 1960 and 2012, in comparison with non-veterans.

Overall there was no difference between the veterans and the non-veterans, but the risk was increased in older veterans, women who joined the services before 1992 and people who had left service early.

Young veterans were not at increased risk.

Although women usually have a lower risk of suicide than men, the study found older veteran women had a similar risk to men.

Lead researcher Dr Beverly Bergman said: ''This is an important study which provides reassurance that military service in the last 50 years does not increase people's risk of suicide overall, but it draws our attention to those people whose increased risk may be overlooked, such as older veterans and women veterans.

''It also confirms that early service leavers have a slightly increased risk but that may not manifest itself until middle age.''

The study compared 56,205 veterans born 1945-85 with 172,741 matched non-veterans.

There were 267 (0.48%) suicides in the veterans compared with 918 (0.53%) in non-veterans.

It found women veterans had a ''significantly higher'' risk of suicide than non-veteran women and comparable risk to veteran men.

Researchers concluded: ''The Scottish Veterans Health Study adds to the emerging body of evidence that there is no overall difference in long-term risk of suicide between veterans and non-veterans in the UK.

''However, female veterans merit further study.''

The study, which used data from the Scottish Veterans Health Study to examine deaths classified as due to suicide or self-harm, is published in Occupational Medicine.