Suicide among Scottish military veterans: follow-up and trends

Bergman, B., Mackay, D. F. and Pell, J. P. (2022) Suicide among Scottish military veterans: follow-up and trends. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 79(2), pp. 88-93. (doi: 10.1136/oemed-2021-107713) (PMID:34649999) (PMCID:PMC8784996)

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Objectives: The risk of suicide among UK military veterans remains unclear. Few recent studies have been undertaken, and most studies found no clear evidence of increased risk. We used data from the Trends in Scottish Veterans Health cohort to investigate suicides up to 2017 in order to examine whether there have been any changes in the long-term pattern of veteran suicides since our earlier study to 2012, and to compare trends in the risk of suicide among veterans with matched non-veterans. Method: Retrospective cohort study of 78 000 veterans and 253 000 non-veterans born between 1945 and 1995, matched for age, sex and area of residence, using survival analysis to examine the risk of suicide in veterans in comparison with non-veterans overall and by subgroup, and to investigate associations with specific mental health conditions. Results: Up to 37 years of follow-up, 388 (0.5%) veterans and 1531 (0.6%) non-veterans died from suicide. The risk of suicide among veterans did not differ from non-veterans overall. Increased risk among early service leavers was explained by differences in deprivation, and the previously reported increased risk in female veterans is now confined to older women. Suicide was most common in the fifth decade of life, and around 20 years postservice. A history of mood disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder was non-significantly more common in veterans. Conclusions: Veterans are not at increased risk of suicide overall. The highest risk for both men and women is in middle age, many years after leaving service.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bergman, Dr Beverly and Mackay, Professor Daniel and Pell, Professor Jill
Authors: Bergman, B., Mackay, D. F., and Pell, J. P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):1470-7926
Published Online:14 October 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine 79(2): 88-93
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
302109Trends in Scottish Veterans' HealthBeverly BergmanForces in Mind Trust (FiMT) (FIMT)FiMT17/1101UGHW - Public Health