Prediction of Suicidal Behavior in Military Personnel

Author`s Contribution:

Prykhodko I. I. 1 E
A — Study design;
B — Data collection;
C — Statistical analysis;
D — Data interpretation;
E — Manuscript preparation;
F — Literature search;
G — Funds collection;
  • National Academy of the National Guard of Ukraine, Ukraine
Background and aim of study:
The prevention of permanent losses of the military arising because of committing suicides is one of the priority directions in the activity of military psychologists and psychiatrists. To solve this problem, both individual factors of suicidal risk in military personnel are determined, for example, age, short service period, insufficient experience in participating in hostilities, psychological instability, and their relationship, for example, between aggressiveness and external and internal personality characteristics.
Research methods:
The materials of the post-mortem pathopsychological research of Ukrainian military personnel participated in hostilities, who committed suicide in 2014-2016 were analyzed. Cluster analysis was used to identify the personality types of military personnel committed suicide.
Between 2014 and 2016 in the National Guard of Ukraine (NGU), in addition to contract servicemen, mobilized and military servicemen served. Thus, since 2014, the staff of NGU has become significantly different in terms of professional and psychological training. And it was during this period that the first increase in the suicidal activity of NGU military personnel occurred. The analysis of materials on completed suicides of this period showed that their growth occurred due to the category of military personnel, who were not professionally and psychologically prepared to participate in hostilities – mobilized, volunteers, military personnel, who first concluded a contract. Among contracted officers and military personnel, who served more than 3 years, no changes in suicidal activity were detected during this period. In determining the circumstances of the suicide, it was found that among those mobilized (aged 25-55 years), who committed suicide, suicidal actions appeared 2-3 weeks after mobilization. For young military personnel (18-22 years old), who were in military service or entered into the first contract, problems of adaptation to combat conditions appeared after 2-3 months of service. It was found that absolutely all military personnel, who committed suicide, were from dysfunctional families. Every fifth soldier had a history of any offenses and disciplinary sanctions. In a third of suicides, alcohol was detected in the blood (the presence of alcohol dependence was not established). For the vast majority of people under 22 years of age, who were in military service or entered into the first contract, the reason for suicide was a break in relations with a girl. The cluster analysis procedure allowed us to identify in the sample of military personnel, who committed suicide in 2014-2016, a dense group, which included almost 85% of this sample, and it constituted the “demonstratively-exalted” type of suicidal activity of military personnel. The research results made it possible to compile a generalized “portrait” of a Ukrainian soldier, who committed suicide in 2014-2016. This is, first of all, a soldier called up for mobilization or military service, who entered into the first contract to improve the financial situation and conditions of service, believing that over the next three years he will be able to serve in combat conditions on a par with professional military personnel. His idea of military service was far from reality, he hoped that his resources would be enough to maintain the usual level of control over the situation. Reduction in the fear of death and physical pain due to participation in hostilities allowed him to choose suicide as the “only right” way to get rid of suffering and “preserve” dignity.
The use of cluster analysis to identify a homogeneous group of military personnel, who committed suicide at various stages of participation in hostilities, taking into account the latest world studies in suicidology, is promising. The “demonstratively-exalted” type of suicidal activity in military personnel, identified using cluster analysis, allowed us to determine that suicides were 2014-2016 they associated with impaired adaptation to combat conditions, the inability to adequately compensate for the accentuated character traits formed in civilian life without threatening the personality structure as a whole. The results obtained revealed the patterns of suicidal activity of military personnel in different periods of hostilities, became a reliable foundation for the development of psychological tools and measures for the prevention of suicidal risk in personnel.
DOI and UDC:
DOI: 10.26697/ijes.2019.4.47; UDC: 616.89-159.9.072:355.514
Information about the authors:
rykhodko Ihor Ivanovich – Doctor of Science in Psychology, Professor, Head of Research Centre, National Academy of the National Guard of Ukraine, Kharkiv, Ukraine.