The United States Army announced today that it has given a new research consortium $17 million to study how to prevent suicides in the military and the general population. The Military Suicide Research Consortium will be led by Thomas Joiner, a psychologist at Florida State University in Tallahassee, and Peter Gutierrez, a clinical psychologist with the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Colorado. Each institution will receive $8.5 million over 3 years.
The rate of suicides among military personnel has alarmed officials in recent years. Between 2005 and 2009, more than 1100 members of the U.S. Armed Forces took their lives. Veterans of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are believed to be especially vulnerable. The funding of the new consortium is the latest in a series of initiatives taken by the Army to tackle the problem.
The consortium will look for ways to identify individuals at risk for suicide as well as evidence-based strategies for prevention and treatment. The results will be used to develop policy recommendations and guidelines for clinical practice.
"Soldiers see a lot of violence, they see death, they see the people who are closest to them in the world get killed, and they themselves are often seriously injured," Joiner said in a press release issued by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. "There's no doubt that the trauma of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq plays a role, but that doesn't explain why some soldiers take their own lives and others who share the same experience don't."