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Two-Star General Died by Suicide, Army Says

Maj. Gen. John Rossi (U.S. Army photo)
Maj. Gen. John Rossi (U.S. Army photo)

A two-star general who was found dead at an Army base this summer died by suicide, the service said.

Maj. Gen. John Rossi, 55, a native of Long Island, New York, and the incoming commander of Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, was found dead July 31 on the installation. The official cause of death was suicide, according to a statement Friday from an Army spokesman.

"This is a tremendous loss for the Rossi family and, indeed, our entire Army family," the spokesman said. "Maj. Gen. Rossi was a respected leader, valiant warrior and trusted friend who gave more than 33 years of service to this nation."

The death is also "a painful reminder of the tragedy of suicide as we continue to better understand its causes and warning signs," the spokesman said.

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

The statement continues, "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."

A total of 265 active-duty troops died by suicide in 2015, according to a Defense Department report from May. The Army had a suicide rate of nearly 30 suicides per 100,000. By comparison, the national rate in 2014 was about 13 per 100,000 citizens, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Rossi was scheduled to take over as commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command, the Associated Press reported. Rossi previously commanded the U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, Oklahoma, it reported.

-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

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