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Caring texts enough to make soldiers feel cared for

ANI | Updated: Feb 16, 2019 22:09 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb 16 (ANI): A loving and thoughtful text message can be enough to make a soldier feel cared for. According to a recent study caring texts sent to active-duty military had important findings in reducing suicide.
A soldier named Jerome Motto received caring letters from home in World War II. They helped boost his spirits and later led to one of the nation's first successful suicide interventions.
Today, with military personnel being more mobile, researchers tested out the effectiveness of caring texts sent to active-duty military.
The study of 658 randomised participants at three military installations was led by Kate Comtois, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The results were published in the journal of JAMA Psychiatryalong.
Comtois said the most significant finding was that the caring contacts reduced the odds of a suicide attempt. The contacts lowered the risk from 15 percent to 9 percent.
"Caring contacts is an entirely different way to engage and take care of suicidal individuals," she said. "It can both prevent suicidal behavior and provide support over periods of stress and transition."
The study recruited Army and Marine Corps personnel identified as being at risk of suicide at three bases in the United States. The control group was given 11 text messages from a clinician, who engaged with the service members, including calling them on the phone if they were feeling urgent distress.
This simple intervention builds on the work of Jerome Motto, a World War II soldier who became a psychiatrist and researcher. He used caring letters to conduct the first successful clinical trial to reduce suicide deaths.
Military personnel historically have had a lower rate of suicide than the general population, Today, however, veterans have a 50 percent higher incidence of suicide than the general population, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs Suicide Data Report, 2006-2016.
In 2018, the US military experienced the highest number of suicides among active-duty personnel in at least six years. A total of 321 active-duty members took their lives during the year (57 Marines, 68 sailors, 58 airmen, and 138 soldiers), according to Military.com.
In this study, just under 14 percent of text responses mentioned difficulty and adversity, but after a few exchanges with a clinician, the service member felt better, said Amanda Kerbrat, one of the lead researchers of the study. (ANI)

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