In my book I take some time to look at what actually constitutes suicide. A definition of it so to speak. It seems to me that most have quite a simplistic and one dimensional approach to it. One can conceptualise of three groups of people who could be considered suicidal in some form.
Group 1. Those who plan to kill self, have made the suicide decision and the suicidal ambivalence is heavily weighted to AC side. These people typically report feeling depressed, anxiety, despair or some other kind of pervasive angst. This is what most would see as the suicidal group.
Group 2. Those who will never do the act of suicide them self but may have made the suicide decision. It is simply either not in their behavioural repertoire or they have made a special kind of suicide decision.
There are seven different suicide decisions of which two are:
I will get you to kill me
I will kill myself by accident
How does one get to kill self by accident. There are a number of ways
Car or motorbike accidents
High risk sports
Working with dangerous animals
How does one get someone else to kill them. There are a number of ways
Domestic violence. Behave in a particular way with a very violent other
Death by cop
Become involved in criminal activity where people kill each other - both as police and the crims.
Get the state kill you with the death penalty
Go voluntarily into a war zone
Refuse treatment for a life threatening illness
Group 3. This is a more contentious definition of suicide. These people present as clearly non suicidal. They will state they feel good and have everything to live for. In addition they consistently place self in circumstances voluntarily where the likelihood of being killed significantly increases. Examples could be Steve Irwin and Peter Brock. They appear quite non suicidal and yet repeatedly place self in circumstances where the risk of death significantly increases. Is this suicidal behaviour or not? This can also apply for someone who smokes 50 cigarettes a day. Is that suicidal behaviour?
However what I wish to discuss at this juncture is a piece of research I came across
“Female soldiers' suicide rate triples when at war”.
Recent research reported in the magazine USA TODAY (March 2011) Gregg Zoroya
This research on US military found
1. When female soldiers deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq the suicide rate triples from 5/100,000 to 15/100,000.
2. When male soldiers deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq there is a 30% increase in the suicide rate from 15/100,000 to 21/100,000.
This could be seen to support the contention that going into a war zone can be used as a way to fulfil the suicide decision:
I will get you to kill me.
Obviously in a war zone there are plenty of people trying to kill you.
Or at least those who have made some kind of suicide decision
Those who are actually deployed may be a self selecting group to some extent. Those who have made this suicide decision will get themselves into the circumstances where they are more likely to be deployed than other non suicidal people in the military. One reason why the suicide rate increases is because the group has selected in, more suicidal people.
In the report on the research the researches say the usual stuff. People deployed to such war zones are more stressed and so forth and this maybe the cause of such statistics.
There is an alternate explanation. Stress has never made anyone suicidal. What stress can do is make an already suicidal person more likely to act on their self destructive urges. Thus a person who has made the suicide decision is more likely to end up in a war zone and when stressed is more likely to act on that decision. Hence the rate of suicide goes up.