The Army released suicide data today for the month of October. Among active-duty soldiers, there were nine potential suicides: two have been confirmed as suicides, and seven remain under investigation. For September, the Army reported 19 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, six have been confirmed as suicides, and 13 remain under investigation.
During October 2010, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 16 potential suicides. For September, among that same group, there were 10 total suicides. Of those, four were confirmed as suicides and six are pending determination of the manner of death.
"Army efforts continue to focus on individuals who engage in high-risk behavior. Risk within the force cannot be mitigated by suicide prevention programs alone. Army leaders at every level have an enormous influence on helping to eliminate the stigma surrounding seeking behavioral health assistance, reducing high-risk behavior and reducing our unacceptable casualty rates," said Col. Chris Philbrick, deputy director of the Army Health Promotion, Risk Reduction Task Force.
"Through the coordinated efforts of leaders, medical professionals, chaplains, families and other members of the Army team, we can provide holistic care for those who seek help, while acting positively to reduce the high-risk population," Philbrick said.
Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained consultants are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website athttp://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center. Trained consultants are available from both organizations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
The Military OneSource toll-free number for those residing in the continental United. States. is 1-800-342-9647; their Web site address is http://www.militaryonesource.com. Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource Web site for dialing instructions for their specific location.
The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp.
Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r600_63.pdf and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p600_24.pdf.
Suicide prevention training resources for Army Families can be accessed at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/training_sub.asp?sub_cat=20(requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).
Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf/.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org/.
The families of those fallen in non-combat deaths have gotten together in common cause several times in recent history. We at Home of the Brave are the direct descendants of Until We Have Answers and MAMMA. (See our website: http://non-combat-death.org/historyportal.htm for some history on this.)
It is always a pesky development when actual citizens get together to fight against the lies told by our very own government or to fight for the release of information which is somehow deemed to be the property of the government which we help fund with our tax payments. I think that mothers and fathers, especially, find this attitude totally unacceptable when it comes to the children which we have borne and raised. You really shouldn't underestimate our tenacity and determination. We have the right to know the truth.
Since I've just read a book titled, A Chain of Events: The Government Cover-up of the Black Hawk Incident and the Friendly-Fire Death of Lt. Laura Piper, written by her mother, Joan L. Piper, I'd like to fill in some of the history of Families rallying for a common cause around non-combat deaths.
The Black Hawk Family group formed in 1994 and existed for several years after. It formed as a result of a "friendly fire" incident in which two US Black Hawk Helicopters flying over Iraq were blown up with missiles launched by two US F-15 fighter jets in a truly unexplainable event. Twenty-six people were killed, fifteen of them Americans. No guilt was ever assigned in a military court system.
As usual, the incident wasn't clearly reported as "friendly fire" until it was impossible to suppress the information. There were military and civilian persons aboard the helicopters from England, France, and Turkey. They were on their way to a meeting in Turkey with the full knowledge of US Military Air Surveillance. The foreign governments were outspoken in their condemnation of this senseless attack. Eventually, the Pentagon gave the families of those foreign nationals monetary compensation to quiet them down.
Monetary compensation was eventually given to the American victims as well through the efforts of the family group. That forced official recognition of the wrongful deaths of fifteen American military personnel.
They also fought for purple hearts posthumously and eventually got them. The battle was hard-fought, however, in order to accomplish this. The government argued that the victims were not killed in battle and so did not qualify. The families argued that they were over a battle zone and certainly in danger when the Air Force pilots decided to strike at helicopters which they did not properly identify. Ironically, if the Pentagon had managed to cover-up the truth and the attack was believed to have been an enemy attack, purple hearts would have been automatically awarded.
Add the fact that helicopters flying slowly and low to the ground in the No Fly Zone of any nation posed little threat to other planes flying at much higher altitudes.
The Black Hawk families acted as their own detectives, eked out hidden information about the personnel involved in the attack and about mistakes made by many which added to this tragedy. They had letter writing campaigns to obtain help from their elected representatives. They managed to get some public admissions of culpability although, in the end, according to Joan Piper, the Pentagon managed to keep high ranking officers from honoring subpoenas served by the Government Accountability Office which would have brought the culpability out in the open and forced legal accountability.
It was an "almost" victory from the families, who, of course would never be the same again after the deaths of their loved ones.
Nevertheless, their fight yielded results which could be produced only by a group effort. They did not shy away from the controversy and did not accept lies in lieu of sad truths.
I find inspiration from reading the story of this group of families and I hope that those of you out there in America who find yourselves fighting a similar battle will be similarly inspired. Keep up the good fight.