Thursday, July 18, 2013

Army investigations detail warning signs before soldiers' suicides

Army investigations detail warning signs before soldiers' suicides
Reported by Jeremy Finley
Posted: Jul 17, 2013

A Channel 4 I-Team investigation into soldier suicides found cases in which family members and Army investigators say the military didn't do enough to stop the soldiers' deaths.

At just 21 years old, Lana Lovely is a widow. Her husband, Pfc. Michael Lovely, died not on the battlefield but in his own backyard. The Army's investigation into his suicide shows there were plenty of warnings he was at risk to hurt himself before he died.

"For a while there, I spent all day every day thinking I wish it would've been me who passed instead of him," Lana Lovely said. "I definitely believe [the military] should have done more."

Through the Freedom of Information Act, the Channel 4 I-Team obtained 17 suicide investigations completed by the Army to determine whether each Fort Campbell soldier died in the line of duty. The 17 soldiers died in 2011 and 2012. The Channel 4 I-Team's review found that in five suicides, there were warnings the soldier may be at risk in the days and even hours before they died, including Michael Lovely.

The Army's investigation shows Lovely was considered a "high-risk" soldier due to at least one documented previous suicide attempt. The week Michael Lovely died, leaders at Fort Campbell put him on a 72-hour "cool down period" because of a domestic incident with his wife. The Army investigation said, "PFC Lovely departed the barracks at precisely the 72-hour mark to depart for home. No one checked to make sure the cool-down period was effective or discussed the reintegration ... to make sure it would be successful."

The investigation shows that Michael Lovely left as soon as the cool-down period ended and texted several people he planned to kill himself. When no one took action, he followed through. The Army investigator wrote that the lack of response to Michael Lovely's suicide threats, and "the lack of controlled release/reintegration by unit leadership" combined to "contribute significantly" to Michael Lovely's death.
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