Former marine, MN native found dead in Yellowstone

7:27 PM, Jul 20, 2010   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Authorities say a former Marine and Twin Cities-area native reported as missing in Yellowstone National Park has been found dead after taking his own life.

It is part of a growing trend that concerns military leaders and suicide experts.

"Right now it's at a rate we've never seen before," said Daniel Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), referring to the military suicide rate.

The U.S. Army reported 32 suicides among active duty and reserve members last month.  That was the worst month ever for suicides in the Army.

Multiple tours of duty to Afghanistan and Iraq, and the struggling economy are major reasons for the rate increase.

Reidenberg said the government is stepping up to address the issue, but even more might need to be done.

"Probably the most important thing we need is, from the top down within the military, a cultural change, a message getting out that says it's OK to talk about mental illness," Reidenberg said.

One of the latest military members to commit suicide is Peter Louis Kastner, 25, of Oklahoma City.  Rangers at Yellowstone had been looking for him since May 31 when his overdue rental car was found at a trailhead.

Kastner's body was found July 14 by researchers working in the park's backcountry. An autopsy confirmed the body's identity and showed that Kastner had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The National Park Service says Kastner served four years in the Marine Corps and was twice injured by homemade bombs while serving in Iraq.

His family had expressed concerned about Kastner's mental state, and said he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome related to his injuries.

Kastner was originally from the Twin Cities area, and had recently moved to Oklahoma City to attend college.

(Copyright 2010 by KARE and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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