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Teens with Military Parents who See Combat, Increase in Suicidal Thoughts

Teens with family members deployed overseas are twice as likely to contemplate suicide, according to a new study published Monday in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The University of California study links family members who enter combat and the mental state of their teens at home. 

Deployment is the strongest predictor of adolescent mental health issues according to the study. 

Over two million children are military-connected in the nation, according to the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC). 

The MCEC in Harker Heights identifies challenges military families face every day. 

Founder of MCEC, Dr. Mary M. Keller says there is very little data on military-connected children. 

And to add to the complexity of the issue, deployment is constantly changes for teens.

They can experience  multiple deployments at different stages in their life. 

But with more troops coming home from combat, Dr. Keller says there needs to be attention on life after deployment. 

 "If a parent comes home profoundly changed or something happens in the family, that compounds this stress," she said. "Teens don't always have the maturity to be able to put things in context."

Ninth and eleventh graders with a parent or sibling involved in two deployments were 34% more likely to have suicidal thoughts than their peers without military connections, according to the study.

The research also found that girls were more likely than boys to report poorer well-being.


Dr. Keller also said there should be focus on both positive and negative of a military life.

Military teens are more likely to volunteer in their community she said.

And military families are strong families that can show others how to get through difficult times.

"Living in the New Normal" is a MCEC program that helps families bounce back from life's stressors.

For more information visit www.militarychild.org.

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