Recent death of a two-star US general at an army base has been officially ruled as suicide, pointing to the growing concerns about persistently high rate of suicide in the ranks of the US military. The 55-year-old major general, identified as John Rossi from New York, was the incoming commander of Redstone Arsenal in the southern US state of Alabama, when he was found dead on July 31 at the military installation, which has served as the Army’s center for missile and rocket programs for over 50 years, but an unnamed Army spokesman said in a Friday statement that “the official cause of [his] death was suicide.”
“This is a tremendous loss for the Rossi family and, indeed, our entire Army family,” the spokesman added, as cited in an AP report, without elaborating on potential reasons for his suicide. The death is also “a painful reminder of the tragedy of suicide as we continue to better understand its causes and warning signs,” the spokesman proclaimed.
“While we have focused our attention on young people — who make up the bulk of our force, and for whom suicide is the second leading cause of death nationwide — the most recent data shows middle-aged Americans are the fastest-growing at-risk population,” the spokesman underlined. He further stated that “suicide knows no common race or age, gender or position.”
The development comes nearly five months after a US Defense Department report said that a total of 265 active-duty troops died by committing suicide in 2015, marking a significantly higher rate compared to the national figure in the previous year. According to the country’s Centers for Disease Control, the US Army had a suicide rate of nearly 30 suicides per 100,000 service members. By comparison, the national rate in 2014 was about 13 per 100,000 citizens.
Rossi, the report noted, was scheduled to take over as commander of the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command. He previously commanded the US Army Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Still, Oklahoma.