Another soldier suicide in Alaska! Fourth soldier dies in three weeks sparking alarm in army
The US Army has reportedly come up with various measures to ensure the soldiers stay 'connected' during the desolate winter
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA: With winter just around the horizon, the feeling of loneliness and isolation looms into the minds of a lot of military personnel posted in Alaska. Between Monday, October 10, and Tuesday, November 1, a three-week timeframe, four soldiers reportedly died due to suspected suicides in the 11th Airborne Division.
The deaths are all under investigation by the Army Criminal Investigation Division. Of the four deaths, three had happened at Fort Wainwright and one at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. US Army leaders recently sent a letter to the families and soldiers of the 11th Airborne Division, assuring them of swift action. According to Alaska News Source, the letter read, “The recent spike in deaths is obviously troubling, and all the suicide prevention measures announced in 2021 have been put into place and are ongoing.”
Alaska News Source reported in 2021, the state lost 11 military personnel to suicide and six more deaths, suspected to be suicides, were still being probed. The 11th Airborne Division’s Commanding General reportedly said, “We must remain resolute in our efforts to prevent the unnecessary loss of life. This remains my #1 priority.”
The US Army has recognized the importance of making sure that their personnel felt connected to prevent suicides. They also kickstarted initiatives to improve social connection amongst their posted officials. At Fort Wainwright, where three of the four suicides had taken place in October, work has begun to improve the soldiers' quality of life. They were supplying happy lights to soldiers and were ensuring the addition of family recreational facilities on their base. This was started as an attempt to get soldiers to come outside of their barracks to give them some valuable human contact.
“All of our new facilities that are in the works are going to have multiple meeting and gathering places, where people can come together outside of their rooms,” Media Relations Specialist Eve Baker reportedly said, adding, “That’s the big thing we are working on.”
In 2021, the army had also started the ‘Mission 100’ campaign, the objective of which was to make sure that all the soldiers remain connected at all times. “Connection creates the experience of a soldier feeling seen, heard and valued. Connection creates hope, and hope is our most lethal weapon to combat despair,” the US Army said. ‘Mission 100’ also ensures continued access to mental wellbeing counselling. Local Alaskan wellbeing institutions have also opened their doors to all military personnel regardless of their time of service.