California adolescents from military families are more likely than non-military youth to think about, plan and attempt suicide, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Southern California and Bar Ilan University in Israel.
Military-connected teens are also at a higher risk of requiring medical care because of a suicide attempt, according to the study, which appears in the journal European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
Researchers found that nearly 12 percent of military-connected youth reported attempting suicide, compared to 7 percent of non-military-connected youth. Approximately 24 percent of military-connected youth reported seriously considering suicide compared to 18 percent of civilian youth.
The findings suggest a need for more screening — especially among military-connected adolescents — by physicians, mental health professionals and educators.
“Primary health care providers, mental health providers, schools, and other community organizations should work to increase their awareness of the presence of military-connected youth and families that they serve,” the authors stated. “Special consideration should be given for the potential of deployments, relocations, and other adolescent stressors to impact the mental health of military-connected youth.”
Data for the study was drawn from the California Healthy Kids Survey, an ongoing survey of 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th graders that is administered by WestEd for the California Department of Education.