Military Bases Hope To Stem Rising Suicide Rate With Training

Fort Carson Confirms Eight Soldiers Killed Themselves In 2008

The Army is bolstering their suicide prevention programs following an alarming rise is soldier suicides.

This year alone, 42 are believed to have taken their own lives. In 2008, the Army said there were 128.

The Fort Carson Army Base confirms there have been an unusually high number of suicides there. The base said there were eight documented cases in 2008, and one already this year. That is why Fort Carson and other military bases are undergoing intensive training in suicide prevention.

"We send them to the range to learn how to shoot their weapon. We teach them how to drive a vehicle. However, we've never really taught them how to ask about suicide," said Kimberly Hunter, an alcohol, drug and control officer at Fort Carson.

The training involves three phases that include interactive videos, education and open dialogue with suicide survivors and families of soldiers who have taken their own lives.

Lt. Col. John Thompson said while he has never had anyone attempt suicide in his unit, he has noticed the toll of back-to-back and extended tours of duties on his soldiers.

"You can see how it wears on certain soldiers. They each show individual signs," said Thompson.

Fort Carson Maj. General Mark Graham lost his son to suicide in 2003. The top ranking ROTC student hung himself while attending the University of Kentucky.

Graham said his son suffered from depression and was managing it with Prozac. Graham said he quit taking it when preparing to go to ROTC advanced camp. They said he was embarrassed to admit he was taking the anti-depressant, even though the Army has no problem with soldiers taking the drug.

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