Bragg training soldiers in suicide intervention

July 21, 2010 4:18:10 PM PDT
Four Fort Bragg-based soldiers have committed suicides in 2010 and two deaths are under investigation.

Base officials say there were six suicides in 2009, a sharp decline from the 10 soldiers who killed themselves in 2007, and 13 suicides on base in 2008.

Across the country, Army suicides have increased six-fold since the start of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The high number of deaths has the Army putting together plans to train soldiers to not only spot suicidal tendencies, but intervene.

To prevent suicides, Fort Bragg has hired two additional professional suicide prevention specialists and increased the number of workshops training soldiers on how to stop someone from attempting suicide.

Experts say it's important that soldiers try and help others who seem to be in distress.

Colonel Tim Leever recalled for ABC11 one case that had a happy ending thanks to a watchful fellow soldier.

"She had been identified by her battle buddy as being at risk for suicide. And the battle buddy knew the right things to do to get her the help she needed and it saved her life," he said.

Over the years, thousands of Fort Bragg soldiers have come under the stress of combat in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. But commanders says deployments are not the main reasons soldiers take their lives.

"The leading causes of suicide - and this is true across the civilian world as well as the military - are: Number one, personal relationship failures, number two, professional failures, and number three, financially failures," explained suicide prevention program manager Larry Holland.

The Army has put together a nearly 16 minute suicide prevention video to help soldiers see the signs.

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