Cir policy brief_jun2011_a.fulginiti_&_e.rice-addendum
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  • 1. USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) POLICY BRIEF ADDENDUM ǀ JUNE 2011 CIR POLICY BRIEF ADDENDUM: Prevention Program) indicated that existing evidence also does not support the link be- “TOGETHER WE STAND, DIVIDED WE tween deployment and suicide in the Marine FALL: CONNECTEDNESS, SUICIDE, AND Corps, noting that less than half of suicides SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE MILITARY” among Marines were ever deployed, and less than 25% of these suicides had ever been in ERIC RICE combat. LCDR Bonnie Chavez (Behavioral ANTHONY FULGINITI Health Program Manager, Navy Suicide Pre- vention Program) added that deployment The Center for Innovation and Research on history is not a statistical risk factor in Navy Veterans & Military Families (CIR) recently suicides, as individuals deployed either at sea published a Policy Brief entitled “Together We or on ground are proportionally represented. Stand, Divided We Fall: Connectedness, Sui- In contrast to the stance that deployment cide, and Social Media in the Military,” about confers added suicide risk, both Maj the potential role of social media in prevent- McCarthy and LCDR Chavez offered findings ing suicides among servicemembers. Maj Mi- that suggest the potential protective effect of chael McCarthy (Program deployment. Maj McCarthy Manager, Air Force Suicide The suicide process is a noted that the lowest rate of Prevention Program) con- tacted CIR to reflect on the link complicated pathway suicide occurred among ser- that is often made in the media that cannot be reduced vicemembers with multiple de- ployments while LCDR Chavez and academic literature be- to any direct correla- commented that a very low tween deployment or combat tion to deployment… percentage of Navy suicides experience and servicemember the processes of social (typically less than 4%) occur suicide. In response, CIR reached out to the other ser- integration at work on deployment. Furthermore, vices in order to gain their per- during deployment shipboard deployments, in par- ticular, may prevent suicide by spectives and build a compre- transitions, and how enhancing servicemembers’ hensive understanding of this such processes impact sense of purpose and connect- issue and found representa- suicide risk, require edness as well as reducing long tives from several branches of further research. periods of time alone with le- the military who graciously thal means. offered timely and thoughtful responses to this policy brief. We welcome this rebuttal. These data make a great deal of sense from the perspective of In a conference call with Dr. Anthony Hassan social integration. As suggested by Braswell & (CIR Director), Megan Hazle (CIR Communi- Kushner (2010), while deployments may dis- cations Liaison), and Dr. Eric Rice (author), tance servicemembers from their non- Maj McCarthy pointed out a key piece of data military networks, deployments may also omitted from the published literature on sui- provide opportunities for integration with cide among servicemembers. In reference to other servicemembers. We agree with the data from the 59 suicides among National sentiment echoed by LCDR Chavez in that the Guard and Reserve members of the Air Force suicide process is a complicated pathway that and Airmen on active duty status in 2010, cannot be reduced to any direct correlation to Maj McCarthy highlighted that most suicides deployment. Indeed, the day after our policy were among those who had never deployed, brief was published, Dr. Craig Bryan pub- with the lowest rate among those who had lished data that supports the claims made by deployed multiple times. LCDR Andrew Mar- our contacts in the military.† While the recent tin (Program Manager, Marine Corps Suicide CIR Policy Brief reviews the literature deline-http://cir.usc.edu 1
  • 2. USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) ating the relationship between deployments and ____________________ suicide risk, the processes of social integration POLICY BRIEF AUTHORS at work during deployment transitions, and how such processes impact suicide risk, require fur- Anthony Fulginiti, MSW, LCSW, Doctoral Student, ther research. It may also be prudent to consider University of Southern California. how social connectedness prior to and upon en- Eric Rice, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of try into military life contributes to suicide risk. Southern California School of Social Work. With social integration having been demon- ____________________ strated as a protective factor against suicide, it seems a worthwhile endeavor to investigate ADDENDUM CONTRIBUTORS how and whether social media might be used to LCDR Bonnie Chavez, Ph.D., Navy Suicide Preven- augment the protective forces of social integra- tion Program Behavioral Health Program Manager. tion during deployment. Anthony Fulginiti, MSW, LCSW, Doctoral Student, During our discussion with Maj McCarthy, he University of Southern California. shared the concern that the focus of the current LCDR Andrew L. Martin, Psy.D., Marine Corps Sui- academic literature on the impact of deployment cide Prevention Program Manager. on suicide rates may have the unintended conse- Maj Michael McCarthy, Air Force Suicide Preven- quence of stigmatizing help-seeking for service- tion Program Manager. members who have not been deployed. A similar concern was offered by LCDR Martin, who ex- Eric Rice, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of pressed worry that the link between deployment Southern California School of Social Work. and combat to suicide, often made by the media, ____________________ distracts policy makers from the true causes of FOR MORE INFORMATION suicide, which in turn impairs prevention efforts. Phone: (213) 743-2050 We are thankful for these expressions of concern and wholeheartedly emphasize that the path to Email: cir@usc.edu suicide is invariably tragic but may or may not Website: http://cir.usc.edu be related to deployment or combat history; we do not endorse value judgments placed on the ____________________ nature of the pathway to suicide. We encourage SUGGESTED CITATION all servicemembers, veterans, and their family CIR Policy Brief Addendum: Together We Stand, Di- members to seek help and support during times vided We Fall: Connectedness, Suicide, and Social of need, and CIR is working diligently to ensure Media in the Military. Los Angeles, CA: USC Center that the services available to military-impacted for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military populations is highly competent and available. Families. † Bryan, C.J. (July, 2011). Suicide among service members: Un- derstanding the reasons for suicide ideation and treatment strategies. UBM Medica Psychiatric Times, 28(7). ____________________ POLICY BRIEF CITATION Fulginiti, A., Rice, E. (2011). Together We Stand, Divided We Fall: Connectedness, Suicide, and Social Media in the Military. Los Angeles, CA: USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families.JUNE 2011 ADDENDUM 2