HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Suicide and all-cause mortality in Swedish deployed military veterans: a population-based matched cohort study

Article

This register-based study investigated suicide and all-cause mortality among Swedish military veterans deployed between 1990 and 2013. The mortality rates among the veterans were compared to the corresponding rates in matched control groups of non-deployed individuals. The study found that, the veterans had a similar suicide and mortality risk as the non-deployed comparators, up to 23 years following deployment.

Abstract

The objective of this article is to investigate suicide and mortality risk in deployed military veterans versus non-deployed comparators who had gone through military conscription testing. Participants were identified from the Military Service Conscription Register and deployment status from the Swedish Military Information Personnel Register. Of 1.9 million conscripts, 21 721 had deployed at some time between 1990 and 2013 (deployed military veterans). Non-deployed comparators were matched to deployed military veterans in two ways: (1) by cognitive ability, psychological assessment, mental health, body mass index, sex, birth-year and conscription-year (carefully matched), with further adjustment for exercise capacity and suicide attempt history; and (2) by sex, birth-year and conscription-year (age- and sex-matched). Deployed military veterans had similar suicide and mortality risk as non-deployed comparators after accounting for psychological, psychiatric and physical factors. Studies of mental health in deployed veterans need to adjust for more factors than age and sex for comparisons to be meaningful.

Full Reference

Pethrus, C. M., Johansson, K., Neovius, K., Reutfors, J., Sundstrom, J. and Neovius, M., 2017. Suicide and all-cause mortality in Swedish deployed military veterans: a population-based matched cohort study. BMJ Open, 7(9), e014034.