The Army has released suicide data through October. 140 active duty soldiers are believed to have killed themselves. That’s equal to the total in all of last year, and Fort Campbell still claims the most of any installation.
When Army Vice Chief of Staff Peter Chiarelli announced the figures he called them horrible but said there are signs of progress. Suicides have tapered from a blistering pace earlier this year.
Fort Campbell has already surpassed last year with 18 soldier suicides through the end of October. But eleven of those deaths occurred before April. The post suicide prevention chief, Joe Varney, says alarm bells set off earlier in the year have made soldiers more nosy in a good way.
“People are more willing to ask the question: Are you ok? How are you doing? Can I help you? We’re getting back to the community we had in yesteryear.”
Varney says unit leaders are also taking suicidal behavior more seriously.
“They’re getting engaged. They’re getting involved with their soldiers and they’re helping relieve those stress triggers that lead to suicidal ideation before they become a problem.”
Besides soldiers looking after each other, Fort Campbell has doubled the number of Military Family Life Counselors. They meet confidentially with soldiers and family members and keep no records. The Army has also added 50 social workers and psychiatrists and is considering a 24-hour behavioral health center on post.