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Risk Factors Explaining Military Deaths From Suicide, 2008–2017: A Latent Class Analysis

Scott D. Landes, Janet M. Wilmoth, Andrew S. London

Armed Forces & Society, September 2021

Scott Landes

Scott Landes


Andrew S. London

Andrew S. London


Janet M. Wilmoth

Janet M. Wilmoth


Military suicide prevention efforts would benefit from population-based research documenting patterns in risk factors among service members who die from suicide. We use latent class analysis to analyze patterns in identified risk factors among the population of 2660 active-duty military service members that the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report (DoDSER) system indicates died by suicide between 2008 and 2017.

The largest of five empirically derived latent classes was primarily characterized by the dissolution of an intimate relationship in the past year. Relationship dissolution was common in the other four latent classes, but those classes were also characterized by job, administrative, or legal problems, or mental health factors. Distinct demographic and military-status differences were apparent across the latent classes. Results point to the need to increase awareness among mental health service providers and others that suicide among military service members often involves a constellation of potentially interrelated risk factors.

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