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Military sexual trauma and suicide attempts in a sample of Marines

Giasson HL, Gradus JL, Shipherd JC. Military sexual trauma and suicide attempts in a sample of Marines. Poster session presented at: Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions; 2010 Apr 27; Seattle, WA.




Abstract:

Research has indicated that sexual trauma occurring during military service is associated with suicide attempts in Veterans. Tiet et al (2006) found that male Veterans experiencing sexual trauma were more likely than those who had not had such experiences to attempt suicide. Further, Belik et al (2009) found associations between sexual trauma and suicide attempts in a sample of Canadian military personnel. The current study hypothesized that military sexual trauma experienced during Marine boot camp would be associated with suicide attempts following boot camp among both males and females. To explore this hypothesis, we utilized data from a longitudinal study of Marines obtained upon arrival for boot camp training at Parris Island in 1997 and at four subsequent time points over the course of 12 years. As our hypothesis is an examination of the sequelae of military sexual trauma occurring during boot camp, the sample for the current study was restricted to Marines that participated in the post-boot camp assessment for the larger study (n = 1469). Suicide attempts in the 12 years following boot camp were assessed during the most recent wave of data collection. Conditional logistic regression was used to examine experiences of military sexual trauma as a predictor of suicide attempts, stratified by gender. Of the total sample, 118 men (11.5%) and 89 women (10.7%) reported experiencing military sexual trauma during boot camp, while 9 men (0.9%)and 20 women (2.4%) endorsed attempting suicide since boot camp. Analyses revealed that men who had experienced military sexual trauma during boot camp had 8.7 times the odds of suicide attempts following boot camp than men that did not have this experience (95% confidence interval: 1.4, 53). Interestingly, we did not find an association between military sexual trauma during boot camp and suicide attempts following boot camp among women (OR = 0.95; 95% confidence interval: 0.21, 4.2). Further examination of these results, and implications for intervention, will be presented.





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