Army says two-star general committed suicide

Army says two-star general committed suicide

The Army on Friday announced suicide as the cause of death for a two-star general.

"The official cause of death of Maj. Gen. John Rossi was suicide. This is a tremendous loss for the Rossi family and, indeed, our entire Army family," the Army said in a statement.

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Rossi, 55, died on July 31 in his home at Redstone Arsenal, an Army post in Alabama. Rossi had arrived just two weeks earlier, as the incoming commander of Army Space and Missile Defense Command. He was also scheduled to be promoted to lieutenant general, according to Army Times. 

Rossi, a West Point 1983 graduate, was commissioned as an air defense artillery officer and had served in the U.S., Korea, Germany, Southwest Asia and Iraq. 

"Maj. Gen. Rossi was a respected leader, valiant warrior and trusted friend who gave more than 33 years of service to this nation. This is also a painful reminder of the tragedy of suicide as we continue to better understand its causes and warning signs," the Army statement said. 

Rossi's family also released a statement, asking for privacy.  

"We appreciate the kindness and support of our extended Army family as we have worked through these difficult days. To the Army, he was Maj. Gen. Rossi — to us, he was John ... husband ... dad."

"We ask for the time and space to grieve in private, and for the Army to continue to better understand suicide, and to help and treat those in need. For our family, this has been an incredibly painful time, and we ask that you continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers," they said. 

"To all the other families out there, to the man or woman who may be facing challenging times, please seek assistance immediately ... compassionate and confidential assistance is available." 

According to his obituary, Rossi is survived by his wife of 32 years, Liz Rossi; his three children, Capt. Dominic Rossi, Maria and Angelina; granddaughter Kylie, and furry kids, Chico and Lucy. He is also survived by his father, Robert Rossi; siblings, Bobby (Patricia) and Donna; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. 

The military is grappling with rising suicide within its ranks since the beginning of the Afghanistan War in 2001. 

Since 2001, suicides among veterans increased 32 percent, compared to 23 percent for adult civilians, according to a Veterans Affairs report in August. According to the report, an estimated 20 veterans commit suicide a day. 

The Army said it would continue trying to create an environment where it was OK to ask for help. 

"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. Suicide knows no common race or age, gender or position," the Army statement said. 

"We will continue to work with and teach our leaders to create an environment where it's okay to ask for help no matter your position or rank, and reinforce in all Soldiers and leaders that it is their duty to lend a helping hand," it said.