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Young age, availability of weapons, and stressful life events, increase the risk of suicide. The aim of the present study was to assess additional risk factors for suicide in the Israeli army.
We conducted a case-control study, to assess risk factors for suicide. The cases comprised soldiers who died by suicide during their military service (n = 462; 0.039% of all soldiers in the cohort). The control group consisted of soldiers who did not commit suicide but were in active service during the investigated period (n = 1,170,895; 99.96%). Predictor variables, including socio-demographic and psychiatric diagnoses, were considered.
Using a Generalized Linear Model with a Binary Logistic dependent variable to predict suicide, while controlling the effect of intervening variables, we found the following variables enhanced the risk for committing suicide: male (RR = 6.703; P < 0.001), country of origin: Ethiopia (RR = 4.555; P = 0.014), low socioeconomic status (RR = 1.448; P = 0.016) and low adjustment difficulties (RR = 2.324; P < 0.001). In addition, we found that in males only, Cluster B Personality Disorder (RR = 2.548; P = 0.027), low (RR = 1.657; P = 0.002), to average motivation to serve in a combat unit (RR = 1.322; P = 0.046) increased the risk for suicide.
IDF Soldiers bearing a psychiatric diagnosis or severe adjustment difficulties remained tightly monitored through their military service, and were found to be at a lower risk for suicide. However, those enlisted with mild (low) difficulties, were found to be at greater risk for suicide, as well as soldiers whose country of origin is Ethiopia. Suicide prevention program should focus on monitoring soldiers with these risk factors, together with soldiers’ guidance regarding help seeking and de-stigmatizing suicide.
From a cognitive neuroscience perspective, the emotional attentional bias in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could be conceptualized either as emotional hyper-responsiveness or as reduced priming of task-relevant representations due to dysfunction in ‘top-down’ regulatory systems. We investigated these possibilities both with respect to threatening and positive stimuli among traumatized individuals with and without PTSD.
Twenty-two patients with PTSD, 21 trauma controls and 20 non-traumatized healthy participants were evaluated on two tasks. For one of these tasks, the affective Stroop task (aST), the emotional stimuli act as distracters and interfere with task performance. For the other, the emotional lexical decision task (eLDT), emotional information facilitates task performance.
Compared to trauma controls and healthy participants, patients with PTSD showed increased interference for negative but not positive distracters on the aST and increased emotional facilitation for negative words on the eLDT.
These findings document that hyper-responsiveness to threat but not to positive stimuli is specific for patients with PTSD.
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