A Qualitative Study of Potential Suicide Risk Factors Among Soldiers Transitioning From Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom


Jaimie Lusk

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Artur Poczwardowski

First Committee Member

Jennifer Cornish

Second Committee Member

Lisa Brenner


Soldiers; Qualitative Research; Behavior/CBT; Reintegration ; Joiner; Burdensomeness; Belonging; OEF; OIF; Suicide


Using qualitative methods, this study explored potential risk factors for suicide, as defined by Joiner's Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide (IPTS), in a population of Soldiers returning from deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). Sixty-eight Soldiers participated in semi-structured interviews during the period of transition from deployment to the garrison environment. These Soldiers were asked about changes in perception of pain, experiences of perceived burdensomeness, and lack of belonging. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed. A phenomenological methodology was employed (Creswell, 2006). In response to questions about perception of pain, Soldiers discussed both positive and negative changes in their experience of physical and emotional pain. When asked about experiences of perceived burdensomeness, Soldiers described changes related to deployment, such as injuries and combat related guilt, as well as changes related to transition from combat, including care seeking, reintegration into family and society, and emotional distancing. Regarding the experience of lack of belonging, Soldiers described difficulties related to the deployment, such as combat injuries, leadership roles, and individual differences, as well as difficulties related to reintegration such as symptoms of emotional numbing and distancing. Findings highlight the potential utility of IPTS in exploring both acute and chronic suicide risk factors associated with deployment and transition, as well as potential treatment strategies that may reduce suicide risk in the population of Soldiers during reintegration.


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


37 pages

Paper Method

Empirical - Qualitative

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