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Veterans 'Not At Greater Risk of Suicide'

A major study has found people who have served in the armed forces in the past 50 years are of no greater risk of suicide than civilians.

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A major study has found people who have served in the armed forces in the past 50 years are not at greater risk of suicide than civilians.

However, it does show certain groups of veterans are more susceptible to taking their own lives.

It found there was an increased risk in older veterans - particularly those aged in their 40s and 50s, women who joined the forces before 1992 and people who left service early.

The study researched veterans in Scotland who served between 1960 and 2012, in comparison with non-veterans.

Young veterans were found not at increased risk, and although women usually have a lower risk of suicide than men, the study found older veteran women had a similar risk to men.

It also found female veterans had a "significantly higher" risk of suicide than non-veteran women.

Lead researcher Dr Beverly Bergman said: "These were all women who had joined the Armed Forces before 1992... and most of them were early service leavers.

"Most of them at the time of their suicide were living in fairly deprived areas."

Dr Beverly Bergman: 'majority of female veteran suicides left Armed Forces early'.

She also said that the study recommends that further work could be done to analyse suicides in female veterans.

"This is an important study which provides reassurance that military service in the last 50 years does not increase people's risk of suicide overall, but it draws our attention to those people whose increased risk may be overlooked, such as older veterans and women veterans," she said.

"It also confirms that early service leavers have a slightly increased risk, but that may not manifest itself until middle age."

The study compared 56,205 veterans born between 1945 and 1985 with 172,741 matched non-veterans.

There were 267 (0.48%) suicides in the veterans compared with 918 (0.53%) in non-veterans.

Recent UK studies have generally shown veterans to be at no greater risk than the general public, while both Falklands and Gulf War veterans have been shown to have a lower risk of suicide.