Two Unrelated Wednesday Afternoon Events

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1. The Army announced that there were a total of 28 suspected suicides in its active and reserve ranks, nearly double February’s suspected toll of 15 suicides.

2. The San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco, released a study showing that Vietnam-era vets who did more killing during their combat tours were twice as likely to ponder suicide as those vets who did little or no killing.

The report concludes:

We found that veterans of war endorsing killing experiences were twice as likely to report suicidal ideation as those who did not kill, even after accounting for PTSD, depression, and substance use disorder diagnoses. This finding has important implications for the evaluation and treatment of veterans who are troubled by killing in war, and may assist with better understanding the growing public health problem of suicide in our newly returning veterans.

At least these two items were unrelated as of Wednesday afternoon. A generation from now, who knows?

The mental-health impact of killing is not formally part of either the VA or Pentagon’s mental-health treatments, says lead author Shira Maguen, a clinical psychologist at the San Francisco VA and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF.

“We know from our previous research how hard it is to talk about killing,” said Maguen, whose study — Killing in Combat May Be Independently Associated with Suicidal Ideation — was just published in the journal Depression and Anxiety. “It’s important that we as care providers have these conversations with veterans in a supportive, therapeutic environment so that they will feel comfortable talking about their experiences.”