Congressmen hope to improve military suicide prevention efforts

February 7, 2008 7:01:57 PM PST
Soldier suicides are increasing at an alarming rate, but help may be on the way for troops battling mental health issues and their families.

Congressman Robin Hayes is pushing a bill requiring the military to improve suicide prevention efforts.

Chris and Anne Scheuerman see hope in the words of this bill, but say it is not enough.

"There has to be accountability. If there is a failure in the chain of command that results in a soldier's death people need to be accountable," Chris said.

Their 20-year-old son Jason Scheuerman committed suicide in Iraq in 2005.

"My son was failed by every person who is charged with his safety. He was failed by his chain of command. He was failed by his chaplain and he was failed by the mental health care system," Chris said.

According to Army figures, the number of suicides and attempted suicides are up 20 percent over last year. Some blame the stress of a prolonged war and extended deployment.

"The least we can do is provide for their health care?," Congressman Robin Hayes, who co-sponsored the bill, said.

Its goal he says; is to reduce the mental health stigma among troops, increase mental health and suicide prevention training, establish a crisis response team and require a mental health follow up for troops returning from combat.

Anne hopes it saves some other mothers' sons.

"It's going to help those soldiers out there deal with day to day issues, they know help is on the way," she said.


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