Despite their best efforts, the Army’s suicide prevention tactics have yet to make a strong impact at Fort Hood, Texas. According to Army statistics, 22 soldiers either took their own lives, or are suspected of taking their own lives last year. This is the highest number of suicides on any Army base and twice the number reported in 2009, which is deeply concerning. While the civilian rate of suicide is 20 deaths per 100,000, the rate across the entire Army is 22 deaths per 100,000. The Fort Hood rate by itself is 47 deaths per 100,000.
The Army assembled a strong front line of psychologists at Fort Hood following the 2009 massacre, but clearly the system has let soldiers slip through the cracks. Fort Hood now hosts one of the most impressive psychological counseling staffs in the entire Army, and yet the number of suicides has increased.
Fort Hood serves as the “front and back door” to Iraq and Afghanistan. The psychological mindset of any given soldier on base at any given time is delicate. There is somewhat of a pattern involved in the Fort Hood suicides in that all of them were men, at least 3 had just returned from combat, and 4 killed themselves in the last week of September.
Multiple combat deployments and extended time away from families seem to be large contributing factors to the suicide problem. In 2010, most of the soldiers assigned to Fort Hood were not deployed. The Army is hoping this will make a difference, but nobody will know until the final numbers are released.
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