Phenotypic predictors of suicide subtypes from pre-to postdeployment in active duty military personnel

Brown, L. A., Zhu, Y., Coon, H., Young-McCaughan, S., Fina, B. A., Dondanville, K. A., Hernandez, A. M., Litz, B. T., Mintz, J., Maurer, D. M., Kelly, K. M., Peterson, A. L., Bryan, C. J., & Williamson, D. E., for the STRONG STAR Consortium
Feb 18, 2023

Journal of Psychiatric Research, 160, 163-170

Military service members are at increased risk for suicide, but there are few strategies for detecting those who are at highest risk after a deployment. Using all available data collected from 4119 Military service members before and after their deployment to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom, we tested whether predeployment characteristics clustered together to predict postdeployment suicidal risk. Latent class analysis showed that three classes best characterized the sample at predeployment. Class 1 had significantly higher scores on PTSD severity pre- and postdeployment than Classes 2 and 3 (Ps < .001). At postdeployment, Class 1 also had a greater proportion of endorsement of lifetime and past year suicidal ideation than Classes 2 and 3 (Ps < .05) and a greater proportion of lifetime suicide attempts than Class 3 (P < .001). Class 1 also had a greater proportion of endorsement of past-30-days intention to act on suicidal thoughts than Classes 2 and 3 (Ps < .05) and past-30-days specific plan for suicide than Classes 2 and 3 (Ps < .05). The study showed that based only on predeployment data, it is possible to determine which service members might be at highest risk for suicidal ideation and behavior at postdeployment.