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Admiral’s wife warns of spousal suicide risk

Associated Press / January 14, 2010

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WASHINGTON - The wife of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had a message yesterday for those trying to prevent military suicides: Don’t forget the spouses.

Deborah Mullen said Army leaders told her that they lack the ability to track suicide attempts by family members of Army personnel.

“I was stunned when I was told there are too many to track,’’ Mullen said, speaking onstage at a military suicide prevention conference next to her husband, Admiral Mike Mullen.

She urged the military to get a better handle on the problem and implement prevention measures with spouses in mind.

“There’s another side to this and that’s family members who commit suicide,’’ Mullen said. “It’s our responsibility. These are our family members.’’

Military-wide, she said, it is not clear exactly how many military family members killed themselves last year. Some military spouses, Mullen said, are reluctant to seek mental health help because it still carries a stigma.

“Spouses tell me all the time that they want to get mental health assistance,’’ she said.