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Pre-enlistment depression, suicidal ideation and plan/attempts among Marine recruits

Gradus JL, Abramovitz SM, Shipherd JC. Pre-enlistment depression, suicidal ideation and plan/attempts among Marine recruits. Poster session presented at: International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Annual Meeting; 2009 Nov 5; Atlanta, GA.


Prevalence estimates for depression, suicidal ideation, plan, and attempt differ by sex in the general population, with women more likely to endorse these experiences. But, the sex-specific prevalence of these characteristics has yet to be studied in people who enlist in the military. We explored these constructs among 1,847 Marine recruits arriving for training at Parris Island. Our study included roughly half the men, and the entire population of women who began Marine training between May-August 1997. The prevalence of depression was significantly higher in women (36%) compared to men (27.1%) and higher than what is reported in the general population with estimates of 21.3% and 12.7%, respectively. For men, the prevalence estimates of lifetime suicidal ideation and plans/attempts were 29.9% and 11.2%, respectively. Estimates were non-significantly higher among female Marine recruits, with lifetime suicidal ideation at 30.9%, and plans/attempts at 13.9%. For both sexes, suicidal ideation and plan/attempts were also elevated compared with what is seen in the general population (13.5%, 3.9%, and 4.6%, respectively). Thus, we found an increased prevalence of depression, suicidal ideation and plan/attempts among those who enlist in Marine training compared to the general population.

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