At Least 39 Fort Carson Soldiers Dead From Suicide Since 2008; Despite Army Prevention Efforts, Soldiers Just Keep Killing Themselves

Fort Carson officials report at least six soldiers have killed themselves so far in 2012 and several others are suspected of having died from suicide. In all of 2011, at least seven Fort Carson soldiers took their own lives according to post officials. Pictured above, soldiers of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, celebrate homecoming May 14, 2012 after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. Carson officials refuse to release details of suicide cases. (DoD)

Fort Carson Suicides Appear to be Rising
Post problem mirrors Army trend

by Jakob Rodgers
The Gazzette, Oct. 22, 2012

TO SEEK HELP: Anyone considering suicide can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Fort Carson appears on track to tie or surpass the number of suicides its soldiers committed last year, according to statistics provided by the post last week.

Six Fort Carson soldiers have committed suicide in 2012 through Wednesday, one less than the post recorded in 2011, said Deon Cobasky, the post’s suicide prevention program manager. “Several” other deaths remain under investigation, said Dee McNutt, a post spokeswoman.

The rise in Fort Carson suicides mirrors an Army trend that has frustrated leaders and prompted a renewed focus on prevention. It also comes as the post battles persistently high suicide rates that traditionally surpass those for Colorado and El Paso County.

The post’s suicide rate in 2011 was nearly 27 per 100,000 soldiers — a double-digit drop from 2008.

We haven’t really done any analytical statistics on each of those [suicides]

— Deon Cobasky, the Fort Carson’s suicide prevention program manager

But Fort Carson’s figure still rose far above the rates in El Paso County and Colorado, which averaged nearly 18 per 100,000 people, according to the state’s Office of Suicide Prevention.

Fort Carson officials say they’ve implemented programs to get counseling for those who need it and to teach others to watch for warning signs.

The issue comes down to choice, said Maj. Chuck Weber, the post’s chief of behavioral health.

“We all have choices,” Weber said. “Those choices are what you’re going to do and the things that are going to happen. What you picked out. Why’d you pick that pen? I don’t know all those answers. That’s why there is so many feeder (programs). We’re going to get them the help.”

Friday, Fort Carson soldiers held a memorial service for a 21-year-old infantryman with the post’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team found dead Oct. 7 at a home in Colorado Springs.

Though his family initially believed his death to be an accident, Colorado Springs police suspect the soldier killed himself, said Barbara Miller, a police spokeswoman.

If an investigation confirms it was a suicide, the soldier’s death would bring to 39 the number of soldiers who have committed suicide on post since 2008.

Few details have been released about the deaths.

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