Date of Conferral
Suicidal Behavior in the U.S. Army is a problem that persists despite significant efforts to promote help-seeking behaviors and the investment of millions of dollars to develop resilience-building interventions. Evidence-based literature supports the use of reasons for living as a protective factor against suicidal behavior in clinical and nonclinical samples, yet it has rarely been studied in an active duty (AD) Army population. This study examined the relationship between self-reported reasons for living and self-reported suicidal behavior, to determine if high levels of reasons for living correlated with low risk of suicidal behavior, over and above demographics, depression, stressful life events, and social support, using standardized questionnaires. The study sample consisted of 244 AD Army soldiers attending the Warrior Leadership Course in Germany. The results analysis showed that reasons for living were inversely related to suicidal behavior among this sample. Although African American soldiers scored higher on measures of reasons for living and suicidal behavior, demographic variables did not significantly predict suicidal behavior. Reasons for living accounted for a unique amount of variance in suicidal behavior; however, depression, stressful life events, and social support were better predictors. This study demonstrates the benefits of incorporating reasons for living in military research and practice, as efforts are made to identify AD Army personnel at risk for suicide. The study findings also support the claim that examining protective and risk factors supersedes efforts to study risk factors alone. It promotes positive social change by informing efforts to develop comprehensive suicide prevention policies, programs, and procedures aimed at effectively reducing the rate of suicide in the U.S. Army.