“He could help everyone … everyone except himself.”



Capt. Peter Linnerooth was an army psychologist whose skills were put to use during some of the most dangerous fighting in Iraq.  He would sometimes spend 60 to 70 hours a week meeting with soldiers who struggled with issues involving grief, insomnia, nightmares and PTSD.  One army buddy shared that Linnerooth was known as , “the man who could help everyone … everyone but himself.”

Sharon Cohen writes, “Linnerooth left Iraq in 2007, a few months short of the end of his 15-month tour. He couldn’t take it anymore. He’d heard enough terrible stories. He’d seen enough dead and dying.

He became a college professor in Minnesota, then counseled vets in California and Nevada. He’d done much to help the troops, but in his mind, it wasn’t enough. He worried about veteran suicides. He wrote about professional burnout. He grappled with PTSD, depression and anger, his despair spiraling into an overdose. He divorced and married again. He fought valiantly to get his life in order.

But he couldn’t make it happen.

As the new year dawned, Pete Linnerooth, Bronze Star recipient, admired Army captain, devoted father, turned his gun on himself. He was 42.”

“There’s no cavalry to save the day,” McNabb explains. “You ARE the cavalry.”

I cannot even begin to pretend to understand all the challenges and struggles that Capt. Linnerooth dealt with.  He, though, is not the only one who has faced such battles.

According to Forbes, suicide among the military is an under reported epidemic now reaching 22 a day or one every 65 minutes.  What can be done?  According to our Military Ministry’s Spiritual Fitness Handbook:

  • Stay alert for suicidal thoughts!  Certain thoughts, feelings and emotions are usually present in people who attempt suicide.
  • Listen Up!  Be aware.  Are you experiencing:
  1. Strong feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness?
  2. Loneliness?  Feelings of isolation from others, and disconnected from positive relationships.
  3. Severe emotional pain and hurt, even though appearing to others as calm and under control?
  4. Thoughts that life has no meaning?  That things which used to have meaning no longer do.
  5. Extreme anger, resentment, hostility?
  6. Despair?  Like life isn’t worth the effort.
  • Never entertain the thought that suicide is a possible solution to your problems.  It won’t solve them, it will only remove you from them and burden all your loved ones with unimaginable grief.  You don’t want that.  If you have suicidal thoughts, get help immediately!  Talk to a counselor, a trusted friend or dial 911.                 

If you know someone who is actively suicidal (they have a plan, intent and the means to carry it out such as access to a weapon), call the police.

Note:  Please be in prayer for our military and their families as well as Pastor Rick Warren and his family who have just lost their son, Matthew, to this tragedy.

Question:  Have you ever journeyed with a friend through such an experience when they had suicidal tendencies?  If so, what was most helpful for both of you during this time?  Post your comments here

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