response to the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy
Why dismiss stats showing higher suicidal behaviours amongst women?
The CMAJ statistics clearly indicate:
- Lifetime suicidal ideation among military personnel for women is 18.4% (5.3% in the past year) and men 14.9% (4.0% in the past year).
- Lifetime suicide plan among military personnel for women is 6.7% and 5.9% for men. There was no data in the past year.
- Lifetime suicide attempts among military personnel for women 5.4% (1.1% in past year) and men 2.6% (0.2% in past year)
Veteran’s suicide: not just a male issue
Research and support for female military and veterans is needed!
That is why the research about military female suicide prevention cannot be conducted "the same way" as the research conducted for the men.
A DIFFERENT study design that specifically addresses women is required
I know this will require more work, more money, but this will allow to get real gender specific answers.
Below are some options and example that can be used:
pool the stats
- work with other first responder groups (paramedics etc) , police forces (RCMP/city police/OPP) within Canada to pool together everyone's female stats and look for common issues/trends/prevention strategies. By pooling with other "similar" groups.. there will be enough numbers to do a real study.
- Work with other nations militaries (US/UK/AU/NZ) to gather a pool numbers for female stats and look for common issues/trends/prevention strategies
Prospective or Matched
- Conduct a prospective study. Follow all women joining the military (a cohort).. and continue following them for life.. then you will with time have the needed numbers.
- Conduct a prospective matched study. It does not need as many women to sign up because they will be matched to similar risk men and/or other civilian women (depending on the research question being asked) and then followed over their whole career for what differences the groups have.