Rutgers studies genetic link to military suicides

Posted: May 27, 2012

Rutgers University will study the genetic makeup of soldiers at risk for suicide or psychological issues, thanks in part to a national grant that the school has received.

The Rutgers Cell and DNA Repository was awarded $2.4 million by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine to conduct the study, which is part of the Army STARRS (Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers) initiative. Army STARRS will survey 55,000 active-duty soldiers though June 2014. It is the largest study of military personnel of its kind.

Blood samples have been sent to the Rutgers repository, the largest university-based one in the world providing analyzing services for DNA, RNA, cell lines, and genetics, the university said.

Rutgers officials hope the research will help determine whether there is a genetic predisposition to mental-health disorders and why some soldiers are at risk for suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder while others are more resilient. The suicide rate of active-duty military increased 80 percent between 2004 and 2008, according to a study by the U.S. Army Public Health Command.

   - Angelo Fichera

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