U.S. Army personnel experience a significant mental health burden, particularly during times of war and multiple deployments. This study identified rates of suicidality (seriously considering or attempting suicide) and types of mental health services used in the past 12 months by active duty Army soldiers.
This study used the 2008 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors Among Active Duty Military Personnel, which sampled 10,400 Army soldiers from a total population of 508,088 soldiers. Mental health service utilization included receiving counseling or therapy from a general medical doctor, receiving counseling or therapy from a mental health professional, and being prescribed medications for depression, anxiety, or sleep. Suicidality was assessed via self-report questions.
Thirteen percent had seriously considered or attempted suicide at some point in their lives, 7% since joining the military. One percent who reported suicidality since joining the Army reported having considered or attempted suicide in the past year. After the analyses adjusted for sociodemographic factors, soldiers who seriously considered or attempted suicide since joining the military versus those who did not were 1.71 times more likely to have used a mental health service, 2.33 times more likely to have used two or more types of services, 1.82 times more likely to have seen a mental health specialist, and 1.67 times more likely to have received medication in the past year.
Understanding the relationship between suicidal thoughts and behaviors and the specific levels and types of mental health services received in this military population is important for health care provision and planning.