Addressing Trauma and Mental Health Issues to Mitigate Suicide Risk Among Military Personnel

Noah Warren
September 22, 2023

When discussing the mental health challenges faced by military personnel, it is essential to address the significant risk of suicide that exists when trauma and other mental health issues go unaddressed. The unique experiences of military service, including exposure to combat trauma, can have a profound impact on the psychological well-being of service members. Understanding this connection and prioritizing effective interventions is crucial in preventing and reducing the risk of suicide within the military community.

military suicide risk

Trauma and Its Impact on Mental Health

Combat trauma experienced by military personnel can leave deep emotional scars that may contribute to the development of mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. The constant exposure to life-threatening situations, the loss of comrades, and witnessing violence can create significant psychological distress.

Without proper treatment and support, the effects of trauma can escalate, leading to a higher risk of suicide. Triangulating the relationship between trauma, mental health issues, and suicide risk, research by Gradus and colleagues revealed that trauma exposure increased the risk of suicide ideation and suicide attempts among military personnel. It is crucial to recognize that untreated trauma can have severe consequences and should be addressed in a timely and comprehensive manner.

The Silent Struggle: Mental Health Issues and Suicide Risk

In addition to trauma, various mental health issues prevalent among military personnel can significantly contribute to the risk of suicide. Untreated or under-addressed conditions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders can create a perfect storm of emotional pain and hopelessness.

Studies indicate that these mental health issues are closely linked with suicide risk among military personnel. For example, according to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 2 out of 3 veterans who died by suicide were diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Addressing and providing effective treatment for these conditions is paramount to reducing the risk of suicide within the military community.

The Urgency for Intervention and Support

Recognizing the critical nature of the risk, it is imperative to prioritize addressing trauma and mental health issues among military personnel. Here are a few key steps to consider:

Promote mental health awareness

Enhancing awareness and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues within the military community are vital. Educating service members and their families about the signs, symptoms, and available resources can encourage early intervention and help-seeking behaviors.

Comprehensive mental health screenings

Implementing routine mental health screenings can allow early detection and treatment of potential mental health concerns. Screening tools such as the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) or the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) can be utilized to assess symptoms and guide appropriate interventions.

Accessible and effective treatments

Ensuring access to evidence-based treatments, such as trauma-focused therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and medication management, is essential. These interventions have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing suicide risk among military personnel.

Collaborative care and support systems

Promote a holistic approach through collaborative care, including coordination between primary care providers, mental health professionals, and support networks. Encouraging social support and creating a sense of community can also provide a protective factor against suicide risk.


Addressing trauma and other mental health issues among military personnel is paramount to mitigating the risk of suicide. It requires a comprehensive approach, involving early intervention, accessible treatment options, and a supportive environment.

By prioritizing mental health within the military community and acknowledging the unique challenges faced by service members, we can work towards reducing suicide rates and fostering resilience among our brave men and women in uniform.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health concerns or experiencing thoughts of suicide, reach out to Roots Mental Wellness or utilize helpline resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Remember, seeking support is a courageous step towards healing and well-being.

Noah Warren
Director of Business Development