Suicide in Scottish military veterans: a 30-year retrospective cohort study

Bergman, B.P., Mackay, D.F. , Smith, D.J. and Pell, J.P. (2017) Suicide in Scottish military veterans: a 30-year retrospective cohort study. Occupational Medicine, 67(5), pp. 350-355. (doi:10.1093/occmed/kqx047) (PMID:28486642)

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Abstract

Background: Although reassuring data on suicide risk in UK veterans of the 1982 Falklands conflict and 1991 Gulf conflict have been published, there have been few studies on long-term overall suicide risk in UK veterans. Aims: To examine the risk of suicide in a broad population-based cohort of veterans in Scotland, irrespect ive of length of service or exposure to conflict, in comparison with people having no record of military service. Methods: A retrospective 30-year cohort study of 56205 veterans born 1945–85 and 172741 matched non-veterans, using Cox proportional hazard models to compare the risk of suicide and fatal self-harm overall, by sex, birth cohort, length of service and year of recruitment. Results: There were 267 (0.48%) suicides in the veterans compared with 918 (0.53%) in non-veterans. The difference was not statistically significant overall [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 0.99; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.86–1.13]. The incidence was lower in younger veterans and higher in veterans aged over 40. Early service leavers were at non-significantly increased risk (adjusted HR 1.13; 95% CI 0.91–1.40) but only in the older age groups. Women veterans had a significantly higher risk of suicide than non-veteran women (adjusted HR 2.44; 95% CI 1.32–4.51, P < 0.01) and comparable risk to veteran men. Methods of suicide did not differ significantly between veterans and non-veterans, for either sex. Conclusions: The Scottish Veterans Health Study adds to the emerging body of evidence that there is no overall difference in long-term risk of suicide between veterans and non-veterans in the UK. However, female veterans merit further study.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Smith, Professor Daniel and Bergman, Dr Beverly and Pell, Professor Jill and Mackay, Dr Daniel
Authors: Bergman, B.P., Mackay, D.F., Smith, D.J., and Pell, J.P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Occupational Medicine
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0962-7480
ISSN (Online):1471-8405
Published Online:09 May 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Occupational Medicine 37(5):350-355
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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