Date of Paper

5-2014

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Kendra Garrett

Abstract

Suicide rates in the military are on the decline, yet on the rise in the National Guard and Reserve components. Training programs to educate and raise awareness about suicide have been implemented in all branches of the military. There is a lot of research about suicide risk and protective factors in the general population and Active Duty military population, but there is not research that identifies service members’ perceptions on what those risk and protective factors may be. Nor is there research that explores the perceptions of stigma in the military regarding suicide. Knowing how service members perceive suicide risk and protective factors and stigma in the military may give some insight into how well the training programs are working. This study compared the perception of suicide risk and protective factors of new members to the service and veterans. The research showed that the two groups have similar perceptions regarding risk and protective factors, yet have fairly differing perceptions about stigma in the military. The veteran sample believes that service members are uncomfortable reporting mental health concerns to the military; the veterans also believe that the military discriminates against service members with mental health issues. The new service member sample believes that it is safe to ask for help regarding suicide in the military; they also believe that the military wants to help those with mental health issues. The research also shows that unit cohesion and family support are strong protective factors for suicide. Based on the findings I recommend improving family involvement in the military. I also recommend creating more unity within Guard and Reserve units. The research also shows there is a lack of resources for Guard and Reserve members; I recommend further research studies identify where the greatest needs for resources are.

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