How Suicidal Thoughts and Depression Can Affect Clearance Eligibility
Under the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines (SEAD-4) Guideline I: Psychological Conditions it states certain emotional, mental, and personality conditions that can impair judgment, stability, reliability or trustworthiness are a concern. The Adjudicative Desk Reference goes into further details regarding specific types of mental or personality disorders, why they are concerning, and what mitigation could be applied to cases involving national security clearance applicants.
Individuals with bipolar disorders are characterized as those who are manic-depressive exhibiting impulsive or erratic behavior that may lack in sound judgment. A recent Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) involved a security clearance applicant who was diagnosed with bipolar. Here is a quick summary of the details:
The applicant was a clearance holder from 1969 to 1993. In 1984 he diagnosed with bipolar and exhibited signs of depression and suicidal thoughts. He went into therapy and was given medication to help cope, but eventually stopped and quit his job. In 2014 the applicant checked himself into a hospital due to severe depression and suicidal thoughts, telling staff he had the power to affect storms and tornados, with the ability to crush structures. He also self-admitted he had a Jekyll and Hyde personality and wasn’t sure he could always control the Hyde persona, having hit himself in the head with a hammer one time. He refused to discuss his thoughts with psychologists or to continue treatment, which resulted in repeated remissions of manic-depressive behavior.
In 2018 the applicant applied for a job that required a security clearance. After reviewing his 30 years of mental health history, the DoD denied his clearance eligibility based on concerns on his mental stability. When questioned by the DOHA judge during the appeal, the applicant admitted to making statements about controlling the weather and that he was refusing to continue treatment for his bipolar disorder. In an easy decision in this case, the judge determined no mitigation existed for the concerns listed under psychological conditions – clearance denied.