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  1. Anara S Guard

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In the USA, much attention is being paid to the increases in suicide among active duty and veteran members of the military forces, especially among those who have been in conflict. Indeed, suicides outstripped combat-related deaths, and have reached the highest numbers ever recorded. Some years ago, long before public attention was focused on the problem, the Air Force implemented a comprehensive prevention programme that was shown to decrease suicides, and also to reduce domestic violence. These results were initially published in the British Medical Journal in 2003. Now, a new study examines 16 years of data and concludes that the programme continues to effectively prevent suicides, as long as it is fully implemented and monitored for compliance. It is also worth noting that the programme uses continuous quality improvement: it ‘has been continuously and incrementally improved since its launch, including the adoption of formalised prevention domains in 2004… and refined for 2006.’

Knox KL, Pflanz S, Talcott GW, et al. The US Air Force Suicide Prevention Program: implications for public health policy. AJPH. Published online First: 13 May 2010: e1–7.

A related development is a special supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, focused on the public health approach to injury prevention in the US military. This issue, which is available online in its entirety for free, …

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