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Former servicemen 'at greater risk of suicide'

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A study has found that former servicemen are up to three times more likely to commit suicide than civilians.

According to researchers at the University of Manchester, reasons behind the increased risk include memories of harrowing experiences in conflict zones such as Iraq or Afghanistan. However, those found to be most at risk would not have been deployed overseas by the time they left the service.

Scientists compared UK military discharge records from 1996 to 2005 with national suicide statistics and found that 233,803 individuals left the armed forces, while 224 took their own lives.

Although the suicide rate among ex-military personnel was similar to that of the general population, young veterans aged under 24 stood out as being exceptionally at risk.

A second explanation for the increased risk was the difficulty a minority of individuals experience making the transition to civilian life.

Meanwhile, another reason suggested was that those entering military service at a young age are already vulnerable to suicide.

The findings published in the online journal PLoS Medicine show that suicide was most likely to occur within the first two years of discharge, and young women aged under 20 were also at an increased risk compared with the general population.

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