Involvement in a strong committed relationship can reduce the risk of suicide among members of the military. According to investigators from Michigan State University, a decreased suicide rate among National Guard and reserve members is dependent on a healthy relationship with their significant other. Keep reading to learn more about how a strong relationship can reduce suicide risk as well as how a marriage therapist in Orange County can help.
How High is Suicide Risk for Military Members?
Statistics show that members of the military have a higher risk of suicide than civilians. In addition, researchers have also discovered that the risk of suicide among National Guard and reserve members is much greater than among active duty members. Investigators believe this is because of the unique challenges confronted by National Guard members when they return to their civilian lives after deployment.
After combat missions, guard members are often forced to immediately jump back into civilian life, which can be very difficult. Many suffer from mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety in the months that follow their return. These are considered at-risk symptoms for suicide.
How Strong Relationships Factor In
Researchers at Michigan State University were curious how a strong, intimate relationship played a role in the lives of soldiers who suffered from mental health conditions. They discovered a correlation between decreased suicide rates and relationship satisfaction.
Adrian Blow, family studies professor and lead author at Michigan State University states that “…a strong relationship provides a critical sense of belonging and motivation for living – the stronger a relationship, the more of a buffer it affords to prevent suicides… National Guard members don’t typically have the same type of support system full-time soldiers receive upon returning home, so it’s important that the family and relationships they return to are as satisfying and strong as possible,” (American Association of Suicidology).
In order to prove Blow’s claims, researchers carried out a survey that questioned 712 National Guard members in Michigan who had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2010-2013 and reported whether or not they were in a committed relationship. The study measured three main variables — mental health symptoms, suicide risk, and relationship satisfaction — each on a separate ranking scale.
The soldiers were asked if their relationship was enjoyable, if they ever had suicidal thoughts or had attempted suicide, how often they experienced symptoms of depression, etc. The survey conveyed a significant connection between mental health conditions (PTSD, depression, and anxiety) and suicide, indicating that a high amount of symptoms were predictive of greater suicide risk.
If You Need Help Strengthening Your Relationship, a Marriage Therapist in Orange County Can Help
These results tell us that members of the military who had higher couple satisfaction had lower suicide rates and were less likely to be affected by PTSD, depression, and anxiety. If your relationship could use some help to bring you and your partner closer, a marriage therapist in Orange County can help. In fact, although most people only think of therapy when their relationship may have issues, marriage counseling can help keep an already strong relationship healthy.
Jennifer De Francisco, MPA, MSW, LCSW, is a marriage therapist in Newport Beach for couples at any stage in their relationship. Her approach provides a safe environment to openly and honestly share thoughts and emotions. Through developing a positive, therapeutic relationship, you and your partner can interpret what is going on, both in your life and in the session, creating a better awareness within your relationship. Contact Jennifer De Francisco by calling (949) 251-8797 or make an appointment online.
Gorman, L. A., et al. “National Guard Families After Combat: Mental Health, Use of Mental Health Services, and Perceived Treatment Barriers.” Psychiatric Services, vol. 62, no. 1, 2011, pp. 28–34., doi:10.1176/appi.ps.62.1.28