Entries in Suicide (3)


Biden Reflects on Grief, Suicidal Thoughts After Death of Wife and Daughter

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden Friday delivered a deeply personal and at times emotional address to survivors of slain U.S. military service members, recounting his struggle with intense grief after his wife and daughter were tragically killed in a car accident almost 40 years ago.
“For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide,” Biden told a Washington gathering organized by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a nonprofit advocacy group, to commemorate Memorial Day.
“Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts; because they'd been to the top of the mountain and they just knew in their heart they'd never get there again, that it was never going to get -- never going to be that way ever again. That's how an awful lot of you feel.”
Biden described how he first learned of the accident on Dec. 18, 1972, just weeks after he was first elected to the U.S. Senate from Delaware. While he was in Washington, D.C., his wife, Neilia, one-year-old daughter Naomi and sons Beau and Hunter were Christmas shopping in Hockessin, De. Their car was struck by a tractor-trailer. Only Beau and Hunter survived.
“And just like you guys know by the tone of a phone call -- you just knew, didn't you? You knew when they walked up the path. You knew when the call came. You knew. You just felt it in your bones something bad happened,” Biden said. “And I knew. I don't know how I knew. But the call said my wife was dead, my daughter was dead, and I wasn't sure how my sons were going to make it.”
The vice president told the families he genuinely understands the “black hole you feel in your chest, like you’re being sucked back into it.” And, he said, while the ache never goes away, it “gets controllable.”
“Just remember two things. Keep thinking what your husband or wife would want you to do. Keep thinking what it is, and keep remembering those kids of yours or him or her the rest of their life, blood of my blood, bone of my bone, because folks, it can and will get better,” he said.
“There will come a day, I promise you, and your parents as well, when the thought of your son or daughter or your husband or wife brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. It will happen. My prayer for you is that day will come sooner or later. But the only thing I have more experience than you in is this: I'm telling you it will come.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sen. Gillibrand Calls for Investigation of Military Hazing, Bullying

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A senator is calling on the U.S. Defense Department to conduct a system-wide review of alleged hazing incidents in the military, after eight soldiers in Afghanistan were charged in connection with the death of Army Pvt. Danny Chen, who apparently committed suicide in October.

Chen had told family and friends that he was the target of persistent racial taunts and abusive treatment by his comrades in arms.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, requested the investigation due to concern that Chen's death is a reflection of a larger problem of military hazing.

"I cannot imagine what [Chen's parents] are going through as they mourn the senseless loss of their son," Gillibrand said. "No soldier should have to mentally or physically fear another soldier. There is no room for discrimination and mistreatment in our military. We need to ensure that those responsible for this type of abuse are held accountable and we must take steps to prevent any more tragedies from happening."

"It is outrageous that any man or woman serving our country would be subject to discrimination or harassment," she wrote in a letter to Dr. Joanne Rooney, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

The Army did not say whether the eight soldiers charged actually killed Chen or whether their mistreatment of Chen caused him to kill himself.

Minority advocates have long been concerned about the treatment of Asian Americans in the military. Asian-Americans make up about 5 percent of the U.S. population, but historically have stayed away from the military, making up less than 3 percent of all military recruits.

Chen was the second Asian American to die of apparent suicide in Afghanistan this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama to Make Policy Change to 'De-Stigmatize' Military Suicides

Mark Wilson/Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- President Obama this week decided to change the longstanding policy that, until now, excluded families of U.S. service members who killed themselves in war zones from receiving presidential condolence letters, White House officials told ABC News.
The policy -- decades old, and likely rooted in military perceptions that suicide is dishonorable -- has been under review by the president’s National Security Staff since December 2009.
Since then, a senior White House official said, the National Security Staffer engaged in an exhaustive review process, and the president decided to make the change, prompted by "the conversations we had with experts about de-stigmatizing suicide, [and] the conversations we had with military families.”
Letters to families of service members who die in war zones will be from the president, and will differ depending on the type of death, as in a combat death versus an accidental death.
“The President feels strongly that we need to de-stigmatize the mental health costs of war to prevent these tragic deaths, and changing this policy is part of that process,” a senior White House official said.
The Pentagon has been trying to address the skyrocketing rates of suicide in recent years.   More than 200 U.S. service members have killed themselves in the theaters of war in Iraq and Afghanistan since those wars began.

The Army’s suicide report released in July 2010 showed that between 2005 and 2009, 22.8 percent of all Army suicides were in combat zones.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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