A Qualitative Study of Potential Suicide Risk Factors Among Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom Soldiers Returning to the Continental United States (CONUS)

Jaimie Lusk, Lisa A. Brenner*, Lisa M. Betthauser, Heidi Terrio, Ann I. Scher, Karen Schwab, Artur Poczwardowski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: A qualitative study among Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Soldiers was conducted to explore potential constructs underlying suicide according to the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide (IPTS); these include burdensomeness, failed belonging, and acquired capability. Methods: Qualitative semistructured interviews were conducted with 68 Soldiers at 3 months post-OEF/OIF deployment. Soldiers were asked about changes in their experiences of pain, burdensomeness, and lack of belonging. The methodology employed was descriptive phenomenological. Results: Transcripts were reviewed and themes related to the IPTS constructs emerged. Soldiers' postdeployment transition experiences included higher pain tolerance, chronic pain, emotional reactivity, emotional numbing and distancing, changes in physical functioning, combat guilt, discomfort with care seeking, and difficulties reintegrating into family and society. Conclusions: Findings highlight the utility of the IPTS in understanding precursors to suicide associated with transition from deployment, as well as treatment strategies that may reduce risk in Soldiers during reintegration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-855
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Volume71
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • IPTS
  • OEF/OIF
  • Postdeployment
  • Qualitative
  • Soldiers
  • Suicide

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