Geisinger doctor investigating Army suicides

boscoDANVILLE – A look into Army suicides shows increasing numbers.  Dr. Joseph Boscarino is a senior investigator with Geisinger’s center for Health Research and analyzes the psychological health of former soldiers, including a focus on post-traumatic stress disorder.

“PTSD is hard to diagnose; it gets misdiagnosed, underdiagnosed and over diagnosed.  It is associated with military suicides, but there seem to be other factors as well, including financial problems, personality issues and other things not necessarily linked to military service.”

Boscarino says a current study is underway that will delve further into veterans’ suicide.  “We are doing a comparative analysis with groups of patients that are veterans discharged from our trauma center and patients in our chronic pain clinic.  We are trying to identify common risk factors.”

Gun control has been a topic of discussion recently and Boscarino says they are also looking at links between access to firearms and suicide.  “Any population that has access to firearms will have a higher rate of successful suicides.  This is true of veterans and active military, but also with uniformed service personnel and other professions.  It makes suicide a lot easier, quicker and more effective.”

A recent report issued by the United States Army documented 325 confirmed or potential suicides in 2012 among active and non-active military personnel.  Boscarino says they will continue to look into the statistics investigating whether factors, other than just military exposure, can explain these higher rates of suicide. (Sara Bartlett)