In Reply: Dr. Mizrachi suggests that we may have misinterpreted his work, and he reemphasizes the importance of ethnopsychological analysis. We appreciate his comments, and we are not in any disagreement with the possible importance of ethnicity. However, this issue was not the focus of our recent work.
Specifically, Mizrachi suggests that "Bodner and colleagues' omission of the soldiers' ethnicity from their text is particularly striking given that their subject—suicide rates among special populations—has been closely linked to ethnicity." It is our opinion that the ethnicity factor is not relevant to this specific work. To explore the effects of intervention on rates of suicide (rather than rates of suicide attempts as in the study Mizrachi mentioned), we employed the classification method used by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The IDF uses valid and reliable criteria to identify recruits who may develop adjustment difficulties (not major psychiatric disorders as per Mizrachi's comment) during their service and to classify them into distinct categories. We described these criteria in our column and elsewhere (1); the criteria have also been used in other studies (2).
Although, as Mizrachi notes, "the relevance of class, ethnicity, and social context to suicide rates" is an important issue, it may be irrelevant to our investigation and is by no means supported or refuted by our findings. It is interesting that Mizrachi suggests that we deliberately ignored the issue of ethnicity and that investigations of social issues should not be the realm of psychologists and psychiatrists. We submit that we have no data about the proportions of members of different ethnic groups, either in the MACAM group or in the other classification groups described in our column. We also strongly suggest that collaborative work among scientists in different areas of social, psychological, and medical sciences has a significant advantage because it broadens perspectives and forms more integrative frameworks of thought.
Bodner E, Ben-Artzi E, Kaplan Z: Soldiers who kill themselves: the contribution of dispositional and situational factors. Archives of Suicide Research 10:2943, 2006
Weiser M, Reichenberg A, Rabinowitz J, et al: Association between nonpsychotic psychiatric diagnoses in adolescent males and subsequent onset of schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry 58:959—964, 2001