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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1990 Jan;178(1):32-7.

Combat experience and postservice psychosocial status as predictors of suicide in Vietnam veterans.

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  • 1Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center, Division of Family Services, Los Angeles.


The authors examined potential risk factors for suicide among 38 Vietnam veterans using 46 Vietnam veterans who died from motor vehicle accidents as a comparison group. The veterans were selected from Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's file (1977-1982). Data for these veterans were obtained from military service records, the coroner's reports, and the psychological autopsy conducted with the decedents' family members. No military service factor was associated with suicide. The characteristics of Vietnam veteran suicide cases were not substantially different from non-Vietnam veteran suicide cases with respect to known demographic risk factors. The psychological profile of Vietnam veteran suicide cases are also similar to non-Vietnam veteran suicide cases in most instances. Symptoms related to posttraumatic stress disorder were observed more frequently among suicide cases than accident cases. However, suicides were not associated with specific combat experiences or military occupation. The extent of combat experience in Vietnam per se as measured in this study is not a good predictor of suicide death.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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