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Bol Asoc Med P R. 2009 Jul-Sep;101(3):33-41.

Military suicide: factors that need to be taken into consideration to understand the phenomena.

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Department of General Social Science, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, San Juan, Puerto Rico.


Soldier suicide rates, unfortunately, continue to rise in our military services. It is well known that military personnel are highly vulnerable to multiple psychopathologies due to a lack of social support system, traumatizing life events and deprived sense of control. Serious psychopathologies such as post-traumatic stress disorders, other anxiety disorders (i.e., generalized anxiety disorder) and depression may increase the risk of suicide. In addition, malingering may be a serious problem that can affect valid treatment due to an intentional production of false or grossly exaggerated physical or psychological symptoms, motivated by external incentive such as avoiding military duty or obtaining financial compensation. Moreover, Hispanic soldiers may be at a higher risk for such psychopathologies due to extreme marginalization conditions by military peers, lack of bilingual language management and discrimination that can severely affect their quality of life. Thus, it is important to recognize those problems in order to prevent them. Literature demonstrate that Primary Preventive Interventions (PPI) can help to reduce the incidence of psychiatric disorders due to an early identification of the mental conditions associate to serious outcome, such as suicide. Taking the previous factors into consideration, the relevant literature pertaining suicidality in service members and the mental disorders associated with it is reviewed. Furthermore, emphasis is made in the importance to develop and validate a battery of screening instruments that address the previous conditions in the military personnel, especially in the Hispanic/Latino soldier and/or veteran as future plans of interventions. This implies the creation, adaptation and administration of a Psychological Battery that will be culturally sensitive for Hispanic/Latino soldiers in which the screening of the previously mentioned pathologies and conditions can be identified. This may help to prevent serious psychological situations and extreme irreversible damage, such as suicide.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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