A poster boy for suicide prevention, Houstonian becomes another statistic
By LINDSAY WISE
April 9, 2011, 7:15AM
Marine veteran Clay Hunt had a tattoo on his arm that quoted Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien: "Not all those who wander are lost."
"I think he was a lot more philosophical about life than a lot of us are, but trying to search for some inner peace and the meaning of life, what was the most important thing," said his father, Stacy Hunt.
His son's quest ended last week when he took his own life at his Sugar Land apartment.
The 28-year-old had narrowly escaped death in Iraq four years ago, when a sniper's bullet missed his head by inches. But he wrestled with post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor's guilt over the deaths of four friends in his platoon who weren't so lucky.
"Two were lost in Iraq, and the other two were killed in Afghanistan," said his mother, Susan Selke. "When that last one in Afghanistan went down, it just undid him."
In many ways, Hunt's death is all too familiar: the haunted veteran consumed by a war he can't stop fighting.
Suicides among Texans younger than 35 who served in the military jumped from 47 in 2006 to 66 in 2009 — an increase of 40 percent, according to state records.
The problem seems increasingly intractable. Efforts by the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs to stop the alarming rise in military suicides nationwide through training and screening have had limited success.
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