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

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

The 22 percent increase equals a total of 349 suicidesfrom active-duty soldiers, according to the Department of Defense. This numberis greater than the total number of soldiers who were killed fighting inAfghanistan.

Samuel Taylor, a 20 year retiredveteran, has been on numerous deployments throughout his military career. "Themain stressors for active-duty soldiers are uncertainties when they deployhome, financial needs, multiple deployments, as well as marriage andrelationship problems," Taylor said.

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

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

In 2012, there were more suicidesamong veteran soldiers than younger soldiers, a trend that was reversed inprevious years. Sandra Worlow, director of Arkansas State University's BeckPride Center, said she believes this can be attributed to younger peopleenlisting without knowing what to expect.

The Beck Pride Center works withveterans to provide them with mental health counseling, educational programsand 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. "Thethings that they have to do over in Afghanistan or previously in Iraq arethings that aren't socially acceptable here. They see a lot of things and feela lot of things and they have to turn their emotions off."

Worlow said it typically takes about18 months following a deployment before they reach out to the Beck PrideCenter.

"They don't see that anything iswrong," Worlow said. "And typically it's an ultimatum given to them by a lovedone, or an employee because of anger management issues or self destructivebehaviors."

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

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

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

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