An experienced suicide attorney in Dallas knows that there are many risk factors that can increase the chances a teen will die by suicide, including a history of depression, substance abuse, or an experience of being repeatedly bullied as a few examples. Now, however, a new study indicates that teenagers who have family members in the military who are deployed multiple times also face an increased risk of death by suicide.
This information is important to ensure that those who counsel or care for teens with deployed family members are aware of the risk factors, can identify signs that a teen is considering suicide and can get a young person the help that he needs to manage his emotions.
Military Deployments Linked to Suicide in Teens
According to the Los Angeles Times, researchers analyzed survey data from 14,299 secondary school students in California. More than 1,900 of those students had either parents or siblings who were in the military. Based on this analysis, researchers identified a link between a family member’s deployment history and a variety of different mental health issues including suicidal thoughts.
The researcher’s published a study revealing their findings in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The survey was unique because the majority of existing research to-date about the mental health of military children has focused on kids who are either already in treatment or who are attending special summer camps for military children. This study took a different approach by adding questions onto a statewide survey of California public school students in 2011. The researchers added questions for students from four Southern California school districts located near military basis. Seventh, ninth and 11th graders were all asked about the deployment history of their parents and their siblings as well as being asked about their mental states.
Based on the information that the study revealed, simply having a close relative in the military did not increase the chances that the young person would experience mental health issues or have thoughts of suicide. However, kids whose relatives had been deployed during the previous decade had a surprisingly high rate of mental health concerns. Just one deployment over the past 10 years raised the rate of students reporting extended periods of feeling sad or hopeless in the prior year from 29 percent among all students to 35 percent. Multiple deployments pushed this number even higher to 38 percent. When asked about symptoms of depression, there was also an increase. While 22 percent of all kids surveyed said they had experienced symptoms of depression in the prior month, 24 percent of military kids with family members who had been deployed said they were depressed. When asked specifically about suicidal thoughts, 18 percent of teens who had not had relatives deployed said yes, but 25 percent of teens with relatives who had multiple deployments answered that they had experienced these thoughts.
Knowing that military kids are more likely to face these struggles means that caregivers and mental health professionals should be especially vigilant for identifying signs that someone is having suicidal thoughts.
If you lost a loved one to suicide, contact a suicide attorney in Dallas at the Law Offices of Skip Simpson, dedicated to holding mental health counselors accountable. Call 214-618-8222.