FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The apparent murder-suicide of a soldier and his wife is among a rash of suspected suicides in recent days at Fort Hood, where the number of cases this year in which soldiers took their own lives has already matched the post’s record, Army officials said Tuesday.
So far this year, 14 confirmed suicides and six more suspected suicides have been reported among soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, according to figures released by the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. The Army reported 11 suicides of Fort Hood soldiers in 2009, down from the previous record high of 14 in all of 2008.
Fort Hood’s senior commander, Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, said in a statement Tuesday night that Army leaders at all levels were deeply concerned about the suicide trend and were looking for innovative ways to reverse it.
The suspected suicides this year include four soldiers’ deaths reported since last week.
On Sunday, 31-year-old Sgt. Michael Timothy Franklin and his wife Jessie Ann Franklin were found shot to death in their home on the sprawling Texas Army post. Army investigators are not looking for suspects because evidence suggests that Franklin shot his wife and then himself, Fort Hood officials said Tuesday.
Michael Franklin, of Middletown, R.I., had served two tours in Iraq, most recently returning in January.
Two soldiers died in separate incidents Saturday. One soldier who served four tours in Iraq was found dead of a gunshot wound in his home in a nearby town. Another soldier, who served in the Gulf War and in Iraq, died in his Fort Hood home Saturday.
A fourth soldier died of a gunshot wound Friday in a nearby town. He had returned in December after a yearlong deployment in Iraq.
Grimsley said the post takes suicide prevention seriously and is raising awareness about programs available to soldiers and their families who need help.
“Too many of our soldiers are seeking a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” Grimsley said. “The loss of each and every soldier is tragic. And while I am saddened that our best efforts and wealth of programs were unable to help our 14 confirmed suicides, I take to heart that thousands of Fort Hood soldiers and many more Army-wide take advantage of the resources dedicated to this challenge and continue to accomplish their mission while proudly serving their nation.”