Adverse childhood and combat experiences may drive veterans'
The rate of suicide among post-9/11 military veterans has been rising for nearly a decade. While there are a number of factors associated with suicide, veterans have unique experiences that may contribute to them thinking about killing themselves. Military veterans have greater exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) than civilians and many also encounter warfare exposures, which can increase the likelihood of mental health problems.

The purpose of this study published by the Journal of Community Psychology was to test the interaction between childhood traumas and warfare exposures on the mental health of a sample of nearly 10,000 new post?9/11 veterans.

Results revealed that;
--Male veterans exposed to one or two ACEs, but no warfare, were more likely to experience anxiety, depression, suicidal thinking, and angry outbursts than the reference group (i.e., no ACEs and no warfare exposure).

--Female veterans exposed to one or two ACEs, but no warfare, were only more likely to experience suicidal thinking.

--Male and female veterans exposed to three or more ACEs and no warfare were more likely to experience probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, suicidality, and angry outbursts.

--Among those veterans who experienced corollaries of combat only (e.g., seeing someone killed or seriously wounded), male, but not female veterans were more likely to have probable PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

--Veterans exposed to warfare (i.e., combat and the corollaries of combat), irrespective of ACEs exposure, were the most likely to report mental health symptoms.

"Clearly exposure to ACEs and combat increase the odds that post-9/11 veterans will think about suicide," said the author. "Female veterans appear particularly vulnerable to suicidal thinking and they likely need enhanced support and programs to decrease their suicidality and work to resolve their childhood and combat traumatic experiences through appropriate evidence-based treatment."