Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

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Internal Army study of deployments and suicide a ‘political hot potato’

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 26, 2010

‘More vigorous’ statistical analysis erases previously identified association between combat units and suicide risk, but suicides are increasingly linked to PTSD

By Bryant Furlow at  epiNews

May 26, 2010 — U.S. Army officials have steadfastly denied any association between deployment histories and suicide risk among soldiers. That may be why an internal Army study by the obscure Behavioral and Social Health Outcomes Program (BSHOP), reportedly showing just such an association, was described as a “political hot potato” in a March 2010 briefing paper obtained by epiNewswire.

A version of the BSHOP study completed the following month reported that “more vigorous” but unspecified statistical analyses had erased a previous finding linking combat unit service and suicide risk.

The briefing document describes a meeting between the Surgeon General of the Army, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army General Peter W. Chiarelli, who is in charge of the Army’s suicide prevention efforts,and officials working on the $50 million federal “Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members” (STARRS), an Army and National
Institutes of Mental Health study of suicide epidemiology.

A BSHOP analysis of suicide risk found an association between suicides and deployments, the briefing states. Chiarelli described that association as a “political hot potato,” according to the briefing.

Chiarelli and other Army officials have repeatedly downplayed suggestions of any connection between deployments and suicide.

“As I look across all the factors, from the number of deployments individual brigade combat teams have gone through to everything else, I cannot find a causal link that links anything,” Chiarelli was quoted as saying in a Nov. 17, 2009 Christian Science Monitor story.  Please Read the Full Story here

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