AWP is currently seeking relatives, loved ones, friends, and co-workers of former service members who were lost to suicide or self-injury causes of death, including, but not limited to, overdose, asphyxiation, accidental gunshot, drowning, suicide by law enforcement interaction, or high-speed, single-driver accidents, within the past 24 months for private interviews. Your valuable insights will contribute greatly to the formation of a proactive approach to preserving the lives of service members and veterans. Participants must be at least 18 years old.
Operation Deep Dive™ (OpDD) is a community-based study aimed at understanding the individual, organizational, and community factors contributing to death by suicide and certain non-natural causes of death among former US service members. Duke University researchers joined the study in 2022, at the request of AWP, as collaborators to redesign the study for Phase II. All previous work on Operation Deep Dive was completed by researchers with the University of Alabama.
Operation Deep Dive is comprised of two sections: Qualitative and Quantitative
The qualitative section aims to:
Conduct interviews with loved ones of former service members who died by suicide or self-injury causes of death (including overdose, asphyxiation, accidental gunshot, drowning, suicide by law enforcement interaction, or high-speed, single-driver accidents).
Identify factors that can be addressed in suicide prevention interventions.
The quantitative section aims to:
Identify former service members with the highest probability of dying of certain non-natural causes of death (including suicide, accidental overdose, or undetermined causes of death) by linking death records from participating states to personnel files from the Department of Defense.
Identify demographic, socioeconomic, military, and geographic characteristics that contribute to a higher or lower risk of premature death.
Long-term goals of both sections:
Use findings to develop targeted recommendations for national, state, and local strategies aimed at preventing suicide, overdose, and certain non-natural causes of death. Additionally, identify specific areas for improvement in clinical and public health practices, particularly for patients with a history of military service.
OpDD is now funded entirely by donations, after initially receiving a grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. Please donate today to continue this groundbreaking research to help prevent veteran suicide.
To see archived reports from Phase I of the study completed by AWP and the University of Alabama, click below.
Qualitative Updates: Duke University researchers, as part of Phase II, are currently collecting new data using a revised semi-structured interview guide and survey. Additionally, they will analyze data obtained through structured interviews conducted in Phase I.
Duke University researchers will analyze data collected by AWP in Phase I, which describes the experiences of former service members from the perspectives of their loved ones. This data will be used to explore signs and symptoms observed in the last 12 months of life and to continuously refine the interview guide for Phase II. Duke aims to use a mixed methods approach to analyze this data throughout 2024.
For Phase II, AWP will continue to interview individuals closely connected to former service members who have passed away due to suicide or self-inflicted causes of death. These interviews aim to better understand the social, economic, and other various health-related factors that a former service member experienced in the last 12 months of life. Duke researchers will then apply a rigorous mixed methods approach to identify themes to help understand factors related to former service members' deaths.
Duke University researchers have begun procuring, overseeing, and managing data collection, designing an analytic plan, conducting analyses, and preparing manuscripts.
The study will combine state death records with Department of Defense personnel files, including those who served in the National Guard or Reserves, to identify demographic, military, and geographic risk factors associated with suicide and certain non-natural causes of death.
Researchers will meet with state government stakeholders and non-profits in participating states to identify and highlight important research areas.
The team will identify common military service experiences and military, demographic, and geographic factors associated with suicide and certain non-natural causes of death. This data will be used to develop prevention measures.