San Antonio Conference Looks at Military Suicides

Military suicides are increasing as soldiers spend more time in combat zones. Concerns over this trend — and what can be done about it — lead the agenda at a special conference in San Antonio this week. Reporter Terry Gildea has more from San Antonio.
Suicide among soldiers in the Marine Corp went up nearly 20 percent in 2008. Numbers for last year aren't available yet, but the Army has already surpassed the number of suicides recorded in 2007. As the problem gets worse, officials from the Departments of Defense and Veteran's Affairs are gathering in San Antonio to share ideas on how to prevent this tragedy from occurring.

Steve Torgenson is a chaplain with the Air Force. He says post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is often a contributing factor to suicide.

"The young airmen and young soldiers who go through these great tragedies and see this death and see this mayhem – don't know that minds are not made to actually go through that sort of trauma and that it will cause them trouble unless they get into a group and do some counseling."

The three day event features panel discussions on how soldiers and their families can cope with problems at home. Medical experts who offer advice on treating PTSD.

In San Antonio for KUHF Houston Public Radio News, I'm Terry Gildea reporting.