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Open AccessArticle

Putting Suicide Policy through the Wringer: Perspectives of Military Members Who Attempted to Kill Themselves

1
Veterans Health Affairs, Social and Behavioral Health, Anchorage, TX 99504, USA
2
Psychology Department, Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, TX 78207, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4274; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214274
Received: 10 September 2019 / Revised: 24 October 2019 / Accepted: 29 October 2019 / Published: 4 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide: Prevention, Intervention and Postvention)
In response to the Air Force Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Mark Ediger’s call for medical services to be guided by service members’ values, preferences, and experiences within the medical system, we conducted an interpretive phenomenological analysis of transcripts in which service members shared their experiences of military mental health policy and practices after being identified as suicidal. Themes of their experiences underscore nuances as it relates to intersectionality of policy when faced with unique military contextual factors and power differentials; both of which were missing in available research literature. Their experiences also illuminate further the innate “Catch 22” which happens when accessing help. Catch 22 basically means if you know you need help than you are rational; but if you actually seek help, then you are crazy and not trustworthy to do your job. Themes presented center on the lack of confidentiality of Service Members in the Workplace, effects of Unit Members’ Surveillance and Command Directed Evaluations, and experiences of Military Mental Health Services. Critical discussions of policy and taken for granted assumptions that often drive narrow responses to suicide, treatment, prevention, and stigma are presented. Particular attention is given to the lived experiences of service members when placed under the demands of circumstances created by policy that may inadvertently lead in some cases to further suffering. The paper closes with recommendations from participants and the authors for policy makers and future directions in research. View Full-Text
Keywords: military studies; policy; stigma; military suicide; military suicide prevention and policy; lived experience; qualitative; critical suicidology; psychology; military mental health military studies; policy; stigma; military suicide; military suicide prevention and policy; lived experience; qualitative; critical suicidology; psychology; military mental health
MDPI and ACS Style

LeFeber, T.P.; Solorzano, B. Putting Suicide Policy through the Wringer: Perspectives of Military Members Who Attempted to Kill Themselves. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4274.

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