Region 8 retired veteran responds to high army suicide rate in 2 - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Region 8 retired veteran responds to high army suicide rate in 2012

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Army suicide numbers for active-duty soldiers was much greater in 2012 then it's been in previous years.

The 22 percent increase equals a total of 349 suicides from active-duty soldiers, according to the Department of Defense. This number is greater than the total number of soldiers who were killed fighting in Afghanistan.

Samuel Taylor, a 20 year retired veteran, has been on numerous deployments throughout his military career. "The main stressors for active-duty soldiers are uncertainties when they deploy home, financial needs, multiple deployments, as well as marriage and relationship problems," Taylor said.

Taylor believes the increase in suicide rates could be attributed to the military being downsized.

"This can put more tasks on the NCOs and leaders," Taylor says. He believes the military being downsized has forced military leaders to not be as actively involved with the soldiers.

In 2012, there were more suicides among veteran soldiers than younger soldiers, a trend that was reversed in previous years. Sandra Worlow, director of Arkansas State University's Beck Pride Center, said she believes this can be attributed to younger people enlisting without knowing what to expect.

The Beck Pride Center works with veterans to provide them with mental health counseling, educational programs and physical therapy. The center also provides assistance to the families of veterans, offering educational services on care giving and counseling.

"For veterans who have been deployed, when they come back life is so different than before they left," Worlow said. "The things that they have to do over in Afghanistan or previously in Iraq are things that aren't socially acceptable here. They see a lot of things and feel a lot of things and they have to turn their emotions off."

Worlow said it typically takes about 18 months following a deployment before they reach out to the Beck Pride Center.

"They don't see that anything is wrong," Worlow said. "And typically it's an ultimatum given to them by a loved one, or an employee because of anger management issues or self destructive behaviors."

Samuel Taylor has been a part of the Beck Pride Center for many years and graduated from ASU in May 2012 with his bachelor's degree. Although he said he never had any suicidal thoughts, he did battle with depression.

"Having a good family support and understanding your mission really helped me," Taylor said.

Taylor said he encourages soldiers coming back from deployment to seek counseling services.

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