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Religion, spirituality, and suicide risk in Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans.

Smigelsky MA, Jardin C, Nieuwsma JA, Brancu M, Meador KG, Molloy KG, VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Workgroup, Elbogen EB. Religion, spirituality, and suicide risk in Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans. Depression and anxiety. 2020 Aug 1; 37(8):728-737.

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BACKGROUND: United States military veterans experience disproportionate rates of suicide relative to the general population. Evidence suggests religion and spirituality may impact suicide risk, but less is known about which religious/spiritual factors are most salient. The present study sought to identify the religious/spiritual factors most associated with the likelihood of having experienced suicidal ideation and attempting suicide in a sample of recent veterans. METHODS: Data were collected from 1002 Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans (M ? = 37.68; 79.6% male; 54.1% non-Hispanic White) enrolled in the ongoing Veterans Affairs Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center multi-site Study of Post-Deployment Mental Health. RESULTS: In multiple regression models with stepwise deletion (p? < .05), after controlling for depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnoses, independent variables that demonstrated a significant effect on suicidal ideation were perceived lack of control and problems with self-forgiveness. After controlling for age, PTSD diagnosis, and substance use problems, independent variables that demonstrated a significant effect on suicide attempt history were perceived as punishment by God and lack of meaning/purpose. CONCLUSIONS: Clinical screening for spiritual difficulties may improve detection of suicidality risk factors and refine treatment planning. Collaboration with spiritual care providers, such as chaplains, may enhance suicide prevention efforts.

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