Colorado

Aug 1, 2010 7:53 PM by Matt Stafford

Local impact of Army suicide and crime numbers

The effects of years or war and multiple deployments continue to get worse, and the Army verified that this week with a report showing near record levels of suicides -- 160 in one year.

"We have an Army that's been fully engaged for almost 9 years now. I don't think that we fully understand the toll that's taken on the force." Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, said Thursday when talking with press about the findings.

Southern Colorado's heavy military presence makes it a battle line for fighting the after effects of war, and it's a battle getting tougher daily.

"We are beginning to see some of the problems that are now coming home." says Donna Finicle, director of Welcome Home Warrior. Finicle helped begin the non-profit in 2007 in Woodland Park -- helping soldiers and their families with the transition home.

She's seeing a lot of the report's finding's first hand.

"It is going up and I think it's related to the multiple combat tours," says Finicle. She says many soldiers are making the problems more difficult for themselves, through self-medication.

"That just increases the problems," Finicle adds.

High criminal activity as well as drug use were pointed as contributing factors in the in report; saying they're seeing many failed drug tests.

However, General Chiarelli adds that a third of the soldier suicides in the report were soldier who had not seen combat.

"This is showing many of the things we've seen for us to blame this thing on the war would be wrong," Gen. Chiarelli said Thursday.

However, many agree... it isn't making the problem any easier to solve.

Experts say some signs to watch for are sudden mood swings and withdrawing from usual social activities. They say the best thing you can do is talk about it.

If you or someone you know is dealing with thoughts of suicide, here are some numbers you can call for help:

(719) 635-7000
Pikes Peak Mental Health

(719) 596-5433 (L-I-F-E)
Suicide Prevention Partnership

1(800) 273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

To see the Army's full report, click here.

For more information on Welcome Home Warrior, Finicle's non-profit, click here.

 

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