Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Suicide in the Military. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009, 210 pages.
Peacekeeping personnel are exposed to multiple sources of trauma, including combat and other primary traumas, and the secondary trauma of serving a traumatized population. Exposure to trauma is a risk factor for mental illness and mental illness is a risk factor for suicidal behavior. This review of published articles provides prevalence estimates of posttraumatic stress disorder and other mental illness among peacekeepers, risk factors for mental illness in peacekeepers, and suicidal behavior among peacekeepers.
A search of bibliographic databases (Pub Men, Google Scholar,) was completed in February 2009. Methodological rigor of published studies varies considerably.
Studies on prevalence of mental illness and risk factors for mental illness among peacekeepers were cross-sectional, but varied in type. Studies were from different countries and used different measures, some included a pre-deployment baseline and repeat surveys, others features repeat surveys with no baseline, and still others were one-time surveys. Studies on suicidal behavior among peacekeepers were from different countries and used different methods.
There is a wide range of reported rates of psychiatric diagnosis including PTSD. Studies on suicide prevalence among peacekeepers show either no difference between peacekeepers and the general population, or reduced risk of suicide among peacekeepers, but these studies are few in number. Implications for policy and practice among peacekeeping organizations are discussed. Future research should address suicide among peacekeepers of different nationalities.