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Now this is what I call Heartbreaking

Dr. Peter Linnerooth spent nearly five years wearing an Army uniform, including the bloodiest 12 months in Iraq at the height of the surge. As a mental-health professional, his top mission was to keep troops from killing themselves. After he returned home, he spent another two years trying to save the vets he loved, working for the VA in California and Nevada.

Few who wore the uniform in the nation’s post-9/11 wars better understood the perverse alchemy that can change the rush and glory of combat into a darkening cloud of anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress. But strikingly, all that understanding — and the knowledge, education and firsthand experience that nurtured it — didn’t save Linnerooth.

“Pete struggled with PTSD and depression after his deployment to Iraq,” an Army comrade says. “Pete is a good example of how serving in combat can change someone. Pete was one of us,” he adds. “He’s the first Army psychologist that I know who killed himself.”

(MORE: Battling PTSD and TBI)

Linnerooth died in Mankato, Minn., on Jan. 2. He was 42.

Reader Comments (1)

I read this post the day after I learned about Aaron Schwartz and his suicide. As a person with someone in the family who has issues with suicidal thoughts, these stories are disheartening. Also this week, someone on Facebook recommended this article in The Atlantic about happiness versus meaning, suggesting it as helpful for those who are depressed. The article mentions how Viktor Frankl helped two men in concentration camps survive their suicidal feelings by helping them focus on meaning in their lives.

Okay, but Dr. Peter Linnerooth and Aaron Schwartz seemed to have doubled-down on meaning, perhaps to try to plug a hole in their feelings. Even last night I saw a cover band of Nirvana, where one is stuck stewing on the greatness of Kurt Cobain, and how we, as fans, were robbed. We call suicide a selfish act. But apparently giving selflessly is not a fix to find meaning.

I am going to reconsider forwarding that Atlantic article, I'm afraid the misdirection may only be destructive. But what I will do, is act as a heartfelt leader to bring them toward a balanced life of happiness and meaning.

January 20, 2013 | Registered CommenterDavid Jung
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