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Wright-patt Afb Is Standing Down Today

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WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — A planned daylong focus by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s leadership today, May 5, on suicide recognition and prevention — after four apparent suicides involving base personnel within six months — spotlights a problem afflicting all of society.

Wright-Patterson’s 88th Air Base Wing will suspend operations today to allow wing commander Col. Bradley Spacy to address employees about the availability of Air Force programs that offer help for those who might be considering killing themselves. The event is open to the wing’s 5,500 military and civilian employees, and other organizations at the 24,000-employee base.

There have been four confirmed or suspected suicides involving Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the last six months in which three men and one woman died. Officials said those included the death of a 22-year-old female airman who took an overdose of aspirin in her dormitory room at the base April 27, and a 30-year-old airman who holed up in his Fairborn home and shot himself Feb. 24 as police emergency response teams surrounded the dwelling.

The other Wright-Patterson personnel who died were a support technician assigned to the National Air & Space Intelligence Center, on Feb. 2, and a civilian employee assigned to the 88th Civil Engineer Directorate, on April 21. Both deaths occurred off the base. The Air Force declined to reveal details of the deaths, which it is investigating, or the victims’ ages.

The Air Force and Army, among other organizations, are reminding their personnel of existing suicide awareness and prevention programs, along with treatment resources.

“The only acceptable number of suicides is zero,” said Maj. Paul Villagran, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon.

More Air Force personnel have died by suicide than in combat during the past 18 months, the service said.

The Army has reported increases in suicides involving its personnel in each of the past four years, reaching a high of 128 suicides in 2008, up from 115 in 2007. From January through March this year, the Army reported 56 apparent suicides, including 22 confirmed and 34 in which an official ruling is pending.

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