The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 19, 2013

Mental health expert who helped suicidal soldiers took own life



Linnerooth, also having marital problems with his second wife at the time, last summer moved back to Mankato, where his first wife and two children live.

Houlihan and Buchanan said they had no contact with him following his return.

Linnerooth, after speaking at a Mankato Memorial Day ceremony in 2009, told The Free Press of his disillusionment with the military for not providing enough psychologists to meet the needs of combat troops.

He said at the base he served in Iraq there were four therapists serving an encampment of 40,000 soldiers — a number far fewer than would be found in a city with that population.

In the 2010 Time article he expanded upon that imbalance: “That’s way too little, and it’s led to much burnout.”

Houlihan said Army psychologists in Iraq having to double as hospital triage staff after bloody mass-casualty events took a huge toll on Linnerooth.

“They really overloaded these guys. The expectation of them was, ‘If you’re not doing something, help out.’  When bombs would go off and civilians would be injured, he’d get called to stitch up kids, and he wasn’t trained to take care of dying children.”

As his wife Melanie Walsh told Time, Linnerooth was especially tormented by the horrifically injured children.

“The adults died quickly, but the kids didn’t give up,” Melanie recalled her husband telling her. “So they screamed in agony for hours until they finally died. Their skin was falling off, and the bone was showing through and there was nothing these guys could do for them except try to manage their pain while they died.”

According to Time, in the early morning of Jan. 2, Linnerooth was alone in his apartment, mixing Jack Daniels with Diet Coke and having a telephone argument with his wife when he chose to end his life.

He was buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis on Monday.


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