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Insecure attachment styles are associated with retrospectively reported suicide attempts (SAs). It is not known if attachment styles are prospectively associated with medically documented SAs.
A representative sample of US Army soldiers entering service (n = 21 772) was surveyed and followed via administrative records for their first 48 months of service. Attachment style (secure, preoccupied, fearful, dismissing) was assessed at baseline. Administrative medical records identified SAs. Discrete-time survival analysis examined associations of attachment style with future SA during service, adjusting for time in service, socio-demographics, service-related variables, and mental health diagnosis (MH-Dx). We examined whether associations of attachment style with SA differed based on sex and MH-Dx.
In total, 253 respondents attempted suicide. Endorsed attachment styles included secure (46.8%), preoccupied (9.1%), fearful (15.7%), and dismissing (19.2%). Examined separately, insecure attachment styles were associated with increased odds of SA: preoccupied [OR 2.5 (95% CI 1.7–3.4)], fearful [OR 1.6 (95% CI 1.1–2.3)], dismissing [OR 1.8 (95% CI 1.3–2.6)]. Examining attachment styles simultaneously along with other covariates, preoccupied [OR 1.9 (95% CI 1.4–2.7)] and dismissing [OR 1.7 (95% CI 1.2–2.4)] remained significant. The dismissing attachment and MH-Dx interaction was significant. In stratified analyses, dismissing attachment was associated with SA only among soldiers without MH-Dx. Other interactions were non-significant. Soldiers endorsing any insecure attachment style had elevated SA risk across the first 48 months in service, particularly during the first 12 months.
Insecure attachment styles, particularly preoccupied and dismissing, are associated with increased future SA risk among soldiers. Elevated risk is most substantial during first year of service but persists through the first 48 months. Dismissing attachment may indicate risk specifically among soldiers not identified by the mental healthcare system.
Emotion reactivity and risk behaviors (ERRB) are transdiagnostic dimensions associated with suicide attempt (SA). ERRB patterns may identify individuals at increased risk of future SAs.
A representative sample of US Army soldiers entering basic combat training (n = 21 772) was surveyed and followed via administrative records for their first 48 months of service. Latent profile analysis of baseline survey items assessing ERRB dimensions, including emotion reactivity, impulsivity, and risk-taking behaviors, identified distinct response patterns (classes). SAs were identified using administrative medical records. A discrete-time survival framework was used to examine associations of ERRB classes with subsequent SA during the first 48 months of service, adjusting for time in service, socio-demographic and service-related variables, and mental health diagnosis (MH-Dx). We examined whether associations of ERRB classes with SA differed by year of service and for soldiers with and without a MH-Dx.
Of 21 772 respondents (86.2% male, 61.8% White non-Hispanic), 253 made a SA. Four ERRB classes were identified: ‘Indirect Harming’ (8.9% of soldiers), ‘Impulsive’ (19.3%), ‘Risk-Taking’ (16.3%), and ‘Low ERRB’ (55.6%). Compared to Low ERRB, Impulsive [OR 1.8 (95% CI 1.3–2.4)] and Risk-Taking [OR 1.6 (95% CI 1.1–2.2)] had higher odds of SA after adjusting for covariates. The ERRB class and MH-Dx interaction was non-significant. Within each class, SA risk varied across service time.
SA risk within the four identified ERRB classes varied across service time. Impulsive and Risk-Taking soldiers had increased risk of future SA. MH-Dx did not modify these associations, which may therefore help identify risk in those not yet receiving mental healthcare.
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