A new study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry has found that the commonly assumed link between military deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan and higher rates of suicide simply does not exist.
The landmark study used a dataset encompassing all 3.9 million members of the U.S. military from October 7, 2001, to December 31, 2007, with the goal of determining the impact Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have had on suicide rates. By December 31, 2009, there were 5,041 recorded suicides in total.
Over the last decade, suicide rates in certain parts of the military have almost doubled. Traditionally, the blame has been placed on a decade of military deployments in the Middle East, but this study breaks all previously held assumptions.
Researchers discovered that there is no link between the two deployments and climbing suicide rates. For those deployed, the suicide rate was 18.86 per 100,000 person-years, and for those who did not deploy, the rate was 17.78.