Military sexual trauma and suicidal self-directed violence

A narrative review and proposed agenda for future research

Authored by: Lindsey L. Monteith , Ryan Holliday , Tim Hoyt , Nazanin H. Bahraini

The Routledge International Handbook of Military Psychology and Mental Health

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367237066
eBook ISBN: 9780429281266
Adobe ISBN:


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Military sexual trauma is a potentially traumatic experience that can lead to a litany of negative mental health and psychosocial sequelae. In this chapter, we review research that has examined the association between military sexual trauma with suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide. We also describe research delineating factors associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among survivors of military sexual trauma. We conclude by proposing an agenda for future research. Extant research has often found that military sexual trauma is associated with suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, or suicide. In addition, cognitive-affective, interpersonal, and institutional factors appear to be associated with suicidal ideation among veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma. Although knowledge in this area is growing, prior research has been limited by small sample sizes, measurement of suicide-related constructs and military sexual trauma, cross-sectional designs, and a tendency to focus on suicidal ideation. Several key questions remain. Longitudinal research is needed to identify trajectories and predictors of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts following military sexual trauma. Research on protective factors has also been sparse. Lastly, there remains a need for interventional research aimed at translating knowledge into prevention of suicidal self-directed violence among military sexual trauma survivors.

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