NATO Advanced Research Workshop:
Wounds of War –
Lowering Suicide Risk in Returning Troops
Professor Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA has received funding from NATO to organize a three-day Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) entitled “Wounds of War: Lowering Suicide Risk in Returning Troops”. The workshop is scheduled for 14-17 October 2007 at the Hotel Amerika-Holzer, Klopeiner See, Südkärnten, Austria and will allow experts from across Europe and North America to meet and discuss the impact of war-related stress, particularly when it increases risk of suicide, on participants in current and past conflicts.
This Advanced Research Workshop is being convened to discuss the topic of increased suicide risk in our service men and women. Research has shown that those who have served in both combat missions and peacekeeping operations are at an increased risk for suicide. Research suggests that this may result from their “wounds of war”. Some wounds may be more “invisible”; such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain, while others are more visibly apparent; such as physical disabilities. Whatever the wound, however, it seems they may all lead to an increased risk of suicide.
During this workshop, we plan to discuss how to more effectively deal with this issue. Specifically, some of the questions we want to address are:
- How do we detect those who are vulnerable to increased suicide risk, possibly due to a combination of genetics and past environmental insults?
- How do we most appropriately assess for increased risk?
- Once detected, how do we help to decrease that risk?
- Are there pre-deployment training methods we can employ to help “inoculate” individuals against increased risk?
- Are there in-theater and post-deployment methods most appropriate for dealing with this risk?
Our hope is that through this workshop, we can come to understand what programs are already in place for detection, assessment, prevention, and treatment. We can then learn from these existing plans and begin to formulate a more common set of best practices and guidelines which can be implemented throughout organizations in all our countries; having as our common goal to always seek to serve our service members more effectively.