Fort Carson reports 1 confirmed suicide this year

3:29 PM, Sep 1, 2011   |    comments
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Last year, Fort Carson reported seven suicides.

Brig. Gen. James Doty, Fort Carson's acting senior commander, said the post emphasized suicide-prevention training at all levels of leadership, from corporal up.

"I could take any one of these guys," Doty said, motioning to an auditorium where about 400 soldiers were attending a suicide prevention forum, "and they would know what the signs of behavior problems are, they would know what the signs of PTSD are, they would know what the signs of (traumatic brain injury) are."

"That's extraordinary," he said.

Fort Carson is one of only a few posts where behavioral health specialists work alongside soldiers where they live and train, so they are easily accessible.

That makes it easier for a soldier to seek help without calling attention to himself or herself, Doty said.

He said the Army is making progress toward reducing the stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment.

"It's not a career killer any more to say, `I've got a problem,"' Doty said.

Another suicide prevention initiative at Fort Carson involves assigning a "sponsor" to soldiers newly assigned to the post. Soldiers amid transfers and other transitions have an increased risk of suicide, Doty said.

"That is a time of extreme vulnerability," he said.

Doty told the soldiers he understands the pain of suicide because his younger brother took his own life.

It was years ago, he said later, but "I think it allows me to be more empathetic."

Across the Army, commanders have reported a total 97 possible suicides - including both confirmed suicides and those still under investigation - this year among active-duty troops. Last year, the Army reported 156 possible suicides among active-duty troops.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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