On the military beat: Study seeks out families touched by suicide

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 1, 2012 - 3:03 PM

Researchers at the University of Kentucky are investigating bereavement issues of families with relatives or other loved ones who've killed themselves related to their military service.

The research is funded by the Department of Defense's Military Suicide Research Consortium and has involved in-person interviews with parents, spouses, and adult children of active-duty service members and recent veterans who have died by suicide.

The idea is to better understand what families go through after the suicide and to suggest policy changes. For instance, the time window for a family member to move off a base after a suicide varies among military installations, which affects how families cope and what resources are used to help, said Julie Cerel, one of the lead investigators in the study.

The work is especially important. In the Army alone, 247 soldiers killed themselves between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of this year. Last year, the Star Tribune documented the issue in a series called "Lost Warriors."

The investigators had been relying on word-of-mouth, suicide support groups, and other grass roots organizations to advertise their study. Now the investigators want to broaden their geographic scope and move to conducting online interviews via Skype. The $677,000 study, which began a few months ago, will last two years. They hope to interview 100 participants.

The researchers want to talk to family members of an active-duty member of the military or a veteran who was deployed within the past 10 years who died by suicide within the past five years.

Those interested in participating can call or e-mail the research coordinator to answer several basic questions to determine eligibility. Interviewing and completing a questionnaire takes about three hours total, and participants receive $50 for their efforts. Those interested in participating can contact Melinda Moore at melinda.moore@uky.edu or phone 859-257-0073.

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434

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