Weak Screening in Soldier Suicide

    KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN - MARCH 01:  SSG Trevor Harney (L) from Continental, Ohio and LTC Christopher Budihas from Jacksonville, Florida with the U.S. Army's 4th squadron 2d Cavalry Regiment look for enemy movement during a joint patrol through a village with soldiers from the Afghan National Army (ANA) on March 1, 2014 near Kandahar, Afghanistan. President Obama recently ordered the Pentagon to begin contingency planning for a pullout from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 if Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai or his successor refuses to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    Scott Olson/Getty

    The first publicly released findings from the largest mental-health study conducted by the U.S. military challenge many of the common notions regarding the spike in soldiers' suicide rates and other mental-health disorders. Published in JAMA Psychiatry on Monday, the two papers show that while 8 percent of soldiers have contemplated suicide, many of the deaths could have been prevented if the military had rigorously screened for mental illness as it is supposed to. Many soldiers enrolled with significantly higher rates of PTSD, panic disorder, ADHD, and explosive disorder that were higher than the general population. Pre-enlistment rates of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse were on par with civilian rates. One lead researcher, Matthew Nock of Harvard University, claimed 30 percent of suicides could have been prevented if the Army excluded recruits with a history of mental illness.

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