(CBS News) A decade of war has put enormous stress on American troops and Thursday the Army reported that the number of suicides among active-duty soldiers in July more than doubled the previous month’s total.
July was the worst month ever for Army suicides. Thirty-eight active duty and reserve soldiers took their own lives. Among active duty troops, 2012 could turn out to be the worst year ever.
Behind the numbers are heartbroken widows who say their husbands sought help but couldn’t get it.
“He was failed. He was failed and now he’s dead,” said Rebecca Morrison told a conference of care givers.
In video shot by the Pentagon, Morrison told the conference her husband, Capt. Ian Morrison, had been feeling anxious and unable to sleep, so he went to walk-in a clinic.
“He sat there for three hours, three hours, before a doctor told him he couldn’t be seen because he was a pilot,” Rebecca said.
Ian flew Apache helicopters, so he went to see a flight surgeon who prescribed sleeping pills. That didn’t help, so he tried another clinic.
“He told them what was wrong with him and they said we’ll see you in two-and-a-half hours,” Rebecca said.
But Morrison was too busy to wait. Later he called an Army help line called Military One Source.
“He was on hold with Military One Source for over an hour before he hung up,” she said.
Ian had spent three days looking for help.
“I came home from graduate school on March 21st at 9:23 in the evening and found my beautiful husband dead on the floor of our room by gunshot wound,” Rebecca said.
“We saw this freight train coming for seven years,” she said.
Michael McCaddon had a family history of suicide and appeared overwhelmed by the demands of a young family and his training as an army doctor.
For Leslie McCaddon, the signs had been there for much longer.
“I was told by senior leadership ‘this sounds like a family issue to me, not an army one’,” Leslie said.
She had overcome the stigma of admitting to a mental health problem in the family, but felt no one was listening.
The Army has doubled the number of mental health counselors in the past four years but admits it still does not have enough to answer all the pleas for help.
The U.S. Army encourages soldiers to call the Military Crisis number at 1-800-273-8255 and press one if they find themselves in a situation where they are contemplating, or know someone who is contemplating suicide.
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