Religion, spirituality, and suicide risk in Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Multicenter Study)

BACKGROUND: United States military veterans experience disproportionate rates of suicide relative to the general population. Evidence suggests religion and spirituality may impact suicide risk, but less is known about which religious/spiritual factors are most salient. The present study sought to identify the religious/spiritual factors most associated with the likelihood of having experienced suicidal ideation and attempting suicide in a sample of recent veterans. METHODS: Data were collected from 1002 Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans (Mage  = 37.68; 79.6% male; 54.1% non-Hispanic White) enrolled in the ongoing Veterans Affairs Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center multi-site Study of Post-Deployment Mental Health. RESULTS: In multiple regression models with stepwise deletion (p < .05), after controlling for depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnoses, independent variables that demonstrated a significant effect on suicidal ideation were perceived lack of control and problems with self-forgiveness. After controlling for age, PTSD diagnosis, and substance use problems, independent variables that demonstrated a significant effect on suicide attempt history were perceived as punishment by God and lack of meaning/purpose. CONCLUSIONS: Clinical screening for spiritual difficulties may improve detection of suicidality risk factors and refine treatment planning. Collaboration with spiritual care providers, such as chaplains, may enhance suicide prevention efforts.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Smigelsky, MA; Jardin, C; Nieuwsma, JA; Brancu, M; Meador, KG; Molloy, KG; VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Workgroup, ; Elbogen, EB

Published Date

  • August 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 37 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 728 - 737

PubMed ID

  • 32248664

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-6394

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/da.23013


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States