Family support, family stress, and suicidal ideation in a combat-exposed sample of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans

Background and Objectives: Deployment-related risk factors for suicidal ideation among Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans have received a great deal of attention. Studies show that mental health symptoms mediate the association between most deployment stressors and suicidal ideation; however, family-related factors during deployment are largely unexplored. We examined posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptoms as mediators of the associations between deployment family support and stress and post-deployment suicidal ideation in combat-exposed OEF/OIF veterans. Design: National cross-sectional mail survey. Methods: 1046 veterans responded to the survey. The sample for this study was 978 veterans who experienced combat. Regression-based path analyses were conducted. Results: Family support and stress had direct associations with suicidal ideation. When PTSD and depression symptoms were examined as mediators of these associations, results revealed significant indirect paths through these symptoms. Conclusions: This study contributes to the literature on suicidal ideation risk factors among OEF/OIF veterans. Deployment family support and family stress are associated with suicidal ideation; however these associations occur primarily through mental health symptomatology, consistent with findings observed for other deployment factors. This research supports ongoing efforts to treat mental health symptomatology as a means of suicide prevention.

J.L. Gradus, B.N. Smith, D. Vogt | 2015
In: Anxiety, stress and coping, ISSN 1061-5806 | 1-10
Epub ahead of print