United States: ‘Combatting’ Self-Harm and Suicide in the US Military and After: Culture, Military Labour and No-Harm Contracts

  • Paul TaylorEmail author
  • Andrew Reeves
Part of the International Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice book series (IPSPAP)


Taylor and Reeves’ chapter opens with the increasing concerns regarding the self-harm suicide rate among the veteran community across the United States. The authors highlight powerfully that this issue wrenches the attention beyond those veterans who have sustained mental injury from conflict alone. The issue’s contemporary relevance is focused around the US military’s proposal to draw up ‘no-harm contract’ under a ‘Separation Oath’ model. The chapter provides an overview of the current situation facing US military veterans’ engagement with health and welfare sectors. The authors assert that the roots of stigma and the avoidance of help-seeking are operating at both formal and informal levels in the military, at the added expense of mental health crises experienced by those in noncombat roles, which are often carried out into their civilian lives. The chapter then critically examines the notion of the no-harm contract suggestion – finding a distinct lack of evidence for their efficacy in reducing the potential for suicide and self-harm. The chapter closes with a critic of the adoption of Oaths on Exit as a therapeutic intervention.


Mental vulnerability Oath Identity Duty Shame 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ChesterChesterUK

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