Monday, February 23, 2015

Reservist's Suicide Hits Tampa Hard

Tampa reservist’s suicide brings home tragedy
Tampa Bay Online
By Howard Altman
Published: February 22, 2015

TAMPA — Why?
The story of Brunette’s life speaks volumes about the difficulty of dealing with veteran suicides, say her family and friends.

That’s the question the family and friends of Air Force Reserve Capt. Jamie Brunette are struggling to answer.

At 30, Brunette seemingly had it all. A vivacious and attractive athlete and scholar, she had been lauded by the Air Force for her work in Afghanistan, was a partner in a fitness center about to open in Largo and was known by her family and friends as being the strong one always ready to help others.

But for some reason, Brunette, who left active duty after 11 years last June and joined the Air Force Reserve, couldn’t help herself.

On Feb. 9, Tampa police found her slumped over in the back of her locked Chrysler 200 sedan outside a Harbour Island cafe near her apartment. Police say it appears she killed herself with her Smith and Wesson .380 handgun, which she purchased about six months earlier.

Now family and friends are trying to come to grips with the pain behind Brunette’s effervescent smile that caused her to become one of the 22 veterans a day who take their own lives, according to a 2012 Department of Veterans Affairs study. It’s a problem that’s vexing both the military and the VA, which are struggling to find ways to prevent suicides.

According to a study published this month in the medical journal Annals of Epidemiology, the nearly 1.3 million veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2007 had a 41 percent to 61 percent higher risk of suicide than the general population, with 1,868 committing suicide during that time period. And while female veterans were far less likely than men to commit suicide, when compared to those who never served, female veterans were more likely to commit suicide than male veterans.
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