With the stress of prolonged wars, extended tours and multiple deployments driving American military men and women to the brink, a major army base shut down for three days yesterday because of a rash of suicides.
At least 11 deaths at Fort Campell, KY, over the past year have come from suicide with 64 members of the Army taking their lives over the six months. Commanders say the rate of self-inflicted deaths will set a record.
The report follows the murder of soldiers by another soldier in Iraq and reports of escalating mental problems among military men and women.
Fort Campbell, home of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, is holding a three-day "suicide stand-down training event" starting Wednesday — the second one it has held this year, a post spokeswoman told CNN.
At least 11 deaths of Fort Campbell soldiers this year are confirmed or suspected suicides, spokeswoman Kelly Tyler said. That’s out of 64 confirmed or suspected suicides in the entire Army, according to official statistics. At that rate, the Army is on pace for a record number of suicides this year.
The post commander, Brig. Gen. Stephen Townsend, addressed all 19,000 soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division on Wednesday, Tyler said.
"His intent was to be able to look them in the eye and make them aware that everyone cares about the issue, and make sure they know — corporal to general — what help is available," she said. "To make sure that people know we want them to keep living."
Soldiers often refuse to admit they are having problems because of the culture of the military, she said.
"You still have the stigma in the Army of asking for help — it’s an institution of strength and honor. And they need to understand that there is strength and honor in asking for help," Tyler said.