Predictors of Suicidal Ideation Across Deployment: A Prospective Study.
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OBJECTIVE: Concurrent and prospective predictors of suicidal ideation were examined in a sample of 318 United States Air Force Security Forces across a 1-year deployment in Iraq and 6- to 9-month follow-up. METHOD: Participants included 294 male and 24 female Airmen ranging in age from 18 to 46 years, predominantly (67%) Caucasian. Measures included self-reports of postdeployment suicidal ideation, posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms, alcohol use, combat experiences, relationship distress, social support, and postdeployment readjustment. RESULTS: Problem drinking before deployment prospectively predicted postdeployment suicidal ideation in univariate analyses. Depressive symptoms and problem drinking were significant independent predictors of postdeployment suicidal ideation. Findings demonstrated a ninefold increase in suicidal ideation among service members with even mild depressive symptoms if moderate problem drinking was also present. CONCLUSIONS: Predeployment problem drinking may serve as a modifiable target for early intervention of suicidal ideation. Findings illuminate the compound risk of comorbid depressive symptoms and moderate problem drinking in predicting suicidal ideation.