Impact Of Relationship Distress On Suicidal Thoughts In Army Soldiers

Being away from your significant other, for a long period of time can take a toll on the relationship and even result in a break up. Service members struggle with not only distance but lack of communication. The lack of interaction between a couple can cause frustration, and even one to become depressed. Many people find it easier to break off the relationship, rather than trying to restore it. Divorce rates for military members who have been deployed are higher: It's 12. 52% for those in the U. S. Navy, 8. 9% in the Marines, 8. 48% in the Army and 14. 6% in Air Force (Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch data). Suicide has become a major concern with veterans and active duty military members. With increasing demands placed on Army families and soldiers including frequent deployments and relocations intimate relationships are tested (Paul Boyce).

The authors Love, Durtschi, Ruhlmannn and Nelson Goff, (2018) conducted a study to examine if romantic relationship factors which included hostile agreements and relationship distress were associated with suicidal thoughts in Army soldiers. They also investigated if these associations were moderated by a recent separation or divorce. In 2016 it was reported that 275 active duty service members, and 203 reserve service members died by suicide. The sample for this study consisted of 322 soldiers. The sample contained 87. 6% male service members and 11. 7% female service members. The age range of soldiers was between 18-61. Education levels of the soldiers included; a high school diploma or GED (37. 4%); post high school but no certificate or degree (27. 5%); post high school technical or associates degree (16. 3%); bachelor's degree (12. 9%); and some graduate study (4. 9%).

In addition, 6. 7% of participants reported being divorced, and 3. 9% reported being separated from their partner. The goal of this study was to examine if the nature of romantic relationships is linked with thoughts of suicide, and if these risk factors for thoughts of suicide are significantly related to a recent separation, or divorce from a partner or spouse in the past year. The study utilized data from all Army Study (AAS) subset of the Army study to assess risk and resilience in service members. The methods included soldiers from a random selection of Army units, who completed a 90-minute self-administered questionnaire. The outcome variable in this study asked participants about suicidal thoughts over the past 30 days. The questions that was asked was "Did you ever wish you were dead or would go to sleep and never wake up? Did you have these thoughts or do this at any time in the past 30 days?"(0=no, 1=yes). Of the entire 21, 449 soldiers in the AAS, only 2, 045 answered this item. From the 2, 045 that responded, 211 soldiers responded yes to this item while 1, 834 responded no. There were two significant direct effects, between negative relationship factors and thoughts of suicide in this study. The number of hostile disagreements in the past 30 days, with a current romantic partner was significantly associated with the odds, that a soldier reported experiencing thoughts of suicide within the past 30 days. The authors concluded that suicide in the U. S. Military has been increasing at substantial rates over the past two decades. The frequency of hostile disagreements, relationship distress, and relationship instability were all significantly associated with suicidal thoughts in this study. Lawrence Wang, Amber Seelig, Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, conducted a similar study which aimed to examine the associations of recent divorce, on health and military outcomes among a cohort of U. S. service members consisting of active duty service members. The study evaluated participants who were married or divorced at the time of the follow-up survey. During the study period, 1545 (5. 3 %) service members became divorced. It was also shown that depression, and anxiety were more prevalent among those recently divorced.

The authors discovered that compared to those who remained married, recently divorced participants were significantly more likely to screen positive for new-onset posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, smoking initiation, binge drinking, alcohol-related problems, and experience moderate weight gain. The authors concluded that recent divorce among military members was associated with adverse mental health outcomes and risky behaviors.

I believe that dissolution of marriage, along with relationship distress can have negative effects on service members and lead them into having dangerous thoughts of suicide. Based off both study's and the data recorded, I believe recently divorced service members should be screened for mental health and behavioral risk factors to improve their overall health and readiness. If screened for mental health it could save many lives as well as allow many people to seek the proper treatment before thinking about causing harm to themselves.

18 May 2020
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