A Jan. 11 display at Fort Campbell's Liberty Chapel used gray-colored boots to make a point about the toll of military suicides on post. The display was put together for a meeting of chaplains and off-post religious leaders working together to cope with the problem, which surged back into the headlines locally in 2012. / THE LEAF-CHRONICLE/PHILIP GREY
by Phillip Grey for The Leaf Chronicle
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — She was a well-liked, exemplary Fort Campbell soldier, a loving mother and wife on a clean, upward career trajectory in the Army that she loved. And she was the last person anyone thought was at risk for suicide.
Right up until the moment she plunged a knife into her own neck.
No one saw it coming – not family, friends, fellow soldiers, health professionals or police, or the Fort Campbell Army officer detailed to conduct the 15-6 Line of Duty investigation into her death.
Hers is one of 17 reports on such investigations recently obtained by Leaf-Chronicle news partner WSMV-Channel 4, Nashville, through Freedom of Information Act requests. The reports shed some much-needed light on a problem of great concern to the communities around Fort Campbell, especially since many military suicides, such as the case cited above, take place outside the post gates.
And the reports illustrate the difficulty of addressing the military suicide problem:
• Some victims were driven perfectionists and model soldiers. Some were anything but. Drugs and alcohol show up in some files and not at all in others. The same goes for financial problems.
• Some had not a hint of relationship issues, or criminal conduct or even minor misconduct, while others rode the razor’s edge of trouble all the way down the chute to oblivion.
• Some gave signs or cried out for help, but many did not, and in too many cases, victims were so good at hiding their problems and their pain that their deaths took those closest to them completely by surprise.
Perhaps surprisingly, none of the soldiers who committed suicide had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.