Predictors of Suicidal Ideation Across Deployment: A Prospective Study

Jeffrey A. Cigrang, Christina Balderrama-Durbin, Douglas K. Snyder, G. Wayne Talcott, Jolyn Tatum, Monty Baker, Daniel Cassidy, Scott Sonnek, Amy M. Smith Slep, Richard E. Heyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Concurrent and prospective predictors of suicidal ideation were examined in a sample of 318 United States Air Force Security Forces across a 1-year deployment in Iraq and 6- to 9-month follow-up. Method: Participants included 294 male and 24 female Airmen ranging in age from 18 to 46 years, predominantly (67%) Caucasian. Measures included self-reports of postdeployment suicidal ideation, posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms, alcohol use, combat experiences, relationship distress, social support, and postdeployment readjustment. Results: Problem drinking before deployment prospectively predicted postdeployment suicidal ideation in univariate analyses. Depressive symptoms and problem drinking were significant independent predictors of postdeployment suicidal ideation. Findings demonstrated a ninefold increase in suicidal ideation among service members with even mild depressive symptoms if moderate problem drinking was also present. Conclusions: Predeployment problem drinking may serve as a modifiable target for early intervention of suicidal ideation. Findings illuminate the compound risk of comorbid depressive symptoms and moderate problem drinking in predicting suicidal ideation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)828-842
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Alcohol misuse
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology


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