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Colo. Springs #2 in Nation for Suicides

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Only one city in the country, Las Vegas, has more suicides than Colorado Springs, according to a report by the National Association of County & City Health Officials.

The report says about 26 of every 100,000 people killed themselves in 2004 in Colorado Springs. That compared with nearly 35 in Las Vegas, 25 in Tucson, Ariz., and nearly 23 in Sacramento, Calif. Those cities also have the three highest overall mortality rates, while Colorado Springs is No. 33 in that category.

No one seems to know why the rate is so high in Colorado Springs. It occurs to me that Fort Carson is in Colorado Springs, and army suicides have been up the past few years.

[Susan Golden, executive director of the Suicide Prevention Partnership in Colorado Springs] says she doesn’t know how many Fort Carson soldiers are included in last year’s suicide number, but she’s certain some have taken their lives this year. The Army reports 44 suicides so far in 2007.

Here’s the story of one who tried to commit suicide twice and was then sent back overseas. Thankfully, he is still alive and soon to be discharged. But there are others with serious mental health issues who fall through the cracks.

Soldiers from Fort Carson and across the country have complained they were sent to combat zones despite medical conditions that should have prevented their deployment. Late last year, Fort Carson said it sent 79 soldiers who were considered medical “no-gos” overseas. Officials said the soldiers were placed in light-duty jobs and are receiving treatment there. So far, at least six soldiers have been returned. An e-mail sent Jan. 3 by Capt. Scot Tebo, the brigade surgeon, says the 3rd Brigade Combat Team had “been having issues reaching deployable strength” and that some “borderline” soldiers were sent overseas.

Does anyone know how many soldiers at Fort Carson committed suicide? I don’t know if there’s a connection or not, but it might be worth looking into.

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