Military Suicide: Study Offers Insight into Motivations

Photo courtesy of DCoE website.

Why does a member of the military attempt suicide? A new study of 72 active duty members who tried to kill themselves works to identify their motives.

Craig J. Bryan, a doctor of psychology, is associate director of the National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah and delivered his findings at the annual Department of Defense and VA suicide prevention conference.

The research breaks down suicide motives into four categories:

  • Emotion relief, or the desire to stop bad feelings;
  • Feeling generation, or the desire to feel something even if it’s bad;
  • Avoidance and escape, or the desire to avoid punishment from others or avoid doing something undesirable;
  • Interpersonal influence, or the desire to get attention or “let others know how I feel.”

Learning the “why” of suicide is essential to reducing suicide attempt rates, Bryan said. The American Forces Press Service reports:

After patients confronted the reasons they had attempted or considered suicide, Bryan said, “it was like a light bulb went on.” While all of the participants originally said they attempted suicide because they wanted to die, 95 percent acknowledged after selecting factors they realized they had not wanted to die, but wanted to end emotional pain.

“What this means from a clinical standpoint is we have to start integrating these behavioral [and] functional understandings of suicide attempts into our treatment,” he said.

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One Response

  1. […] as brought to my attention by the ever-vigilant, ever-informative Bobbie O’Brien in her blog Off the Base: remarks made by Dr. Craig Bryan and his co-presenter, Dr. David Rudd, in a breakout session […]

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