Soldier shares battle with suicide

U.S. Army Maj. George Corbari spoke about suicide prevention at an event held Nov. 26 at Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel.

U.S. Army Maj. George Corbari spoke about suicide prevention at an event held Nov. 26 at Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel.

Story and photo by Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

U.S. Army Maj. George Corbari spoke Tuesday at Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam about suicide prevention. The theme of his speech was Piercing the Darkness, Altering our Perspectives on Suicide.

For Corbari, the subject of suicide prevention hits particularly close to home. He said he knows first hand what it is like to struggle with suicidal thoughts. During his opening remarks, he stressed how his presentation would differ from what those in the audience might have heard before.

“We’ve all sat thorough our share of prevention programs,” he said. “This will be a little different. It will be about my personal experiences.”

Corbari talked a bit about his background, including the trauma of his parents divorcing when he was 10. He told the audience how he joined the Army intent on only a short stint but ended up making the military his career.

It was when his military career seemed to be going especially well that Corbari had some of his darkest days.

In 2011, Corbari was chosen to attend the yearlong Commanding General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It was an important recognition.

“They tell you it will be the best year of your life,” he said. “For me, not so much.”

Going to Fort Leavenworth was not part of Corbari’s plan. Both his daughter and his son-inlaw were also in the Army, serving in the same unit as Corbari. All three expected to deploy together to Afghanistan. Not deploying as a family was a major blow to him.

“That started a series of events that happened to me that were overwhelming,” he said.

For one, around this time Corbari’s son entered a mental institution after his third failed suicide attempt. Also, an overseas adoption that Corbari and his wife had been working on ended up costing more money than expected.

Then Corbari received a phone call from his daughter in Afghanistan. Her husband had stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while on patrol. He barely survived, but lost both of his legs from the knees down.

Corbari visited his sonin-law at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and was devastated by the experience. He couldn’t help but blame himself.

“This was my fault,” said Corbari. “I had convinced them to join my unit, the 10th Mountain Division.”

Looking back, Corbari said he realizes that this sort of thinking was illogical.

“When you are depressed, you lose your normal clarity,” he said. “When you are buried that deep, you can’t see out.”

Corbari began to consider suicide, an option he would have previously considered “ridiculous.” Fortunately, concerned teammates reached out to him and helped pull him back from the brink.

Now, Corbari welcomes the opportunity to share his story as a way of spreading awareness about suicide prevention.

“Suicide touches all of us,” he said.

For more information about suicide prevention, visit www.suicide.navy.mil, www.navynavstress.com , or www.af.mil/Suicide Prevention.aspx.

The Military Crisis Line is also available. Those in need can call 1-800-273-8255 and press ‘1’ to speak to a trained professional, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This service is confidential and available to all service members and their families.

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Category: News