Suicide takes more military lives than combat, especially among women


When she was growing up, Memorial Day meant a trip to the Honor Wall in the center of Deana Martorella Orellana’s hometown, where the names of Charleroi, Pennsylvania, men who died in the world’s battlefields are etched in black granite.

Her family is making that trip without her this year.

She died with inspirational notes stuffed in her pockets. That March morning in 2016, she had gone to Veterans Affairs and asked for counseling.

She couldn’t talk to her family about how her deployment to Afghanistan changed her – and yes, it changed her, they all said – serving on a female engagement team there.

“She talked to one of her sisters about it and said she could take everything except for the children,” Laurie Martorella, Deana’s mom. “Something about the children really hit her.”

And keeping that inside haunted her.

“Nobody talks about mental health,” Laurie said. “If you do, you’re weak, you’re on medication, it might affect my future earnings, there might be a stigma.”

Deana shot herself at age 28 with a .45-caliber handgun, joining the growing number of military women who end their own lives.


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