The Association of Military Sexual Harassment/Assault With Suicide Ideation, Plans, Attempts, and Mortality Among US Service Members/Veterans: A Meta-Analysis

Whitney S. Livingston, Hallie S. Tannahill, Diana J. Meter, Jamison D. Fargo, Rebecca K. Blais

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Suicide rates continue to increase among service members/veterans. Military sexual harassment/assault (MSH/A) may increase risk of suicide, but little is known about the collective magnitude of associations between MSH/A and suicide outcomes, including ideation, plan, attempt, and mortality. The current meta-analysis addressed this literature gap while testing potential moderators of gender, marital status, discharge status, and military branch. PsycINFO, PubMed, Dissertations/Theses, relevant citation lists, and conference brochures were reviewed for papers that included quantitative analyses in English, U.S. military samples, and measures of MSH/A and suicide ideation/plan/attempt/mortality. The search resulted in 22 studies (N = 10,898,875) measuring the association of MSH/A with suicide ideation (k = 15), plans (k = 1), attempts (k = 14), and mortality (k = 2), with papers published from 2007–2021. MSH/A was associated with suicide ideation ((Formula presented.) =.14) and attempts ((Formula presented.) =.11, ps <.05). The association of MSH/A and suicide ideation and attempts was higher among women relative to men, those identifying as married versus not married, those actively serving compared to discharged, and those reporting service in the Air Force relative to all other branches. The association of MSH/A with suicide plans and mortality was not calculated due to the small number of studies reporting those effect sizes (ks = 1–2). The effect sizes observed suggest MSH/A is part of a larger network of risk factors for suicide. Moderators indicate that suicide risk is higher among specific groups, and prevention strategies would be most effective if they targeted these individuals. This research area would be strengthened by additional studies of plans and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • meta-analysis
  • service members
  • sexual trauma
  • suicide attempt
  • suicide ideation
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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