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Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2015 Aug;45(4):399-414. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12136. Epub 2014 Nov 3.

Military Veterans' Experiences with Suicidal Ideation: Implications for Intervention and Prevention.

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Portland Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care (CIVIC), Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR.
Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA.
War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ.
Department of Medicine, Rutgers University-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA.
Richard L. Roudebush Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Indianapolis, IN, USA.


We sought to understand Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans' experiences with suicidal ideation. Semi-structured interviews with 34 OEF/OIF veterans addressed circumstances leading up to disclosure of suicidal ideation during brief clinical assessments. We used an iterative, inductive and deductive thematic analysis approach. Results revealed three pervasive, persistent domains that reinforce the uniqueness of veteran suicidal thoughts: military culture, difficult deployment experiences, and postdeployment adjustment challenges. Within postdeployment, we identified four themes that serve as intervention targets: adjusting to civilian culture, changes to sense of self, feeling overwhelmed by stressors, and lacking life purpose or meaning.

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