General Battles Military Suicides

"Several soldiers came forward and said, 'I feel like that NCO in the movie,' or they said, 'I've had those feelings before,'" said Graham, who is convinced the videos are helping a lot of soldiers. "And then, we escort them and get them help right then. We don't wait."

While the Army cannot determine the exact amount of lives that have been saved because of the programs, the impact is evident.

"I have had soldiers who've said that they'd been thinking about it and had, at times, started to make plans," Kopp said. "And so we feel very fortunate when we catch someone like that."

In many ways, Graham's personal tragedy has permeated the culture of Ft. Carson.

"When you've got the commanding general of your military installation saying mental health is important, suicide is something to be aware of and to try to prevent -- I don't see how that couldn't have an impact on the soldiers," Kopp said.

Kevin Graham, the youngest son of Gen. Graham, committed suicide at the age of 21. He was the top ROTC cadet at the University of Kentucky, was fluent in German, and had dreams of being a doctor in the Army.

On the evening of his death, his sister Melanie went looking for him when he didn't show up for a game of golf with his brother Jeffrey. She found his body in the apartment they shared. He had hanged himself.

While Graham did not suspect his youngest son was battling with depression and never fathomed he would take his own life, retrospectively he can pinpoint some of the indicators in his behavior. One of the signs was that Kevin Graham's once-stellar grades had begun to slip.

"He told his mom one time, 'Mom, I can't think anymore,'" Gen. Graham recalled.

Kevin Graham also was working out excessively.

"We learned later that that's because his serotonin level was low," Gen. Graham said. "So he was working out twice a day to keep his serotonin level up because that made him feel better."

For Graham, the programs at Ft. Carson offer him an opportunity to educate soldiers about the same depression his son suffered from.

He lamented that his wife, "Carol, and I beat ourselves up all the time and we'll always do that. We didn't realize you could die from depression. It isn't just a sad feeling. It's something that can lead to death."

Kevin Graham had to learn about depression on his own and fought off feelings that he did not understand.

"Kevin didn't realize he was depressed," Graham said. "He read on his own and kept learning. And pretty soon that's when he realized and called his mom Carol in Korea and said, 'Hey mom, I know what's wrong with me. I've got depression.'"

Kevin Graham sought medical help but came off his medication before his death, Gen. Graham said.

Turning Pain Into Knowledge

Graham hopes that the program he is involved with will raise awareness and allow others to identify those suffering with depression -- and encourage or lead them to help.

The program also helps Graham reach out to parents who may feel an initial surge of disbelief upon first hearing their child is depressed.

"I know it seems hard that, you know -- yes, your child. But they didn't ask for this. They didn't want it, but now they have it," Graham said.

Soon after Kevin Graham's death, Gen. Graham watched his 23-year-old son, Jeffery, deploy to Iraq. Three months later, he bid a final goodbye to his eldest son who was killed while on foot patrol in Iraq.

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