Minn. head says Guard singled out over suicides [UPDATED]Published 9:54am Tuesday, December 20, 2011 Updated 11:55am Tuesday, December 20, 2011
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota National Guard has attracted “unsubstantiated notoriety” for the number of military suicides, the state adjutant general told a joint legislative hearing Monday while urging funding for suicide prevention programs.
Maj. Gen. Rick Nash told lawmakers that suicide is increasing among the entire population, not just the military, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. He noted that since 2007, 24 members of the Minnesota National guard have died by suicide, though two-thirds of them had never deployed.
“That’s an important detail because it’s a common assumption that suicides are the result of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is not true,” Nash said.
The two dozen suicides are more than any other state, but Nash said only two of the deaths occurred among active duty soldiers.
“On the two days per month that the part-time force assembles, I can say with certainty, a soldier or airman at risk of suicide is actively engaged by his or her battle buddy or wingman. Our team is trained and ready to link that service member with the resources he or she needs,” Nash said.
So far in 2011, 34 National Guard soldiers have taken advantage of a program to intervene with soldiers who may be at risk of suicide, Nash said.