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Marine Suicides At Near Record

The Marines suicide prevention program reported 21 deaths and 107 attempted suicides for the year through July.

Some 21 Marines committed suicide and 107 attempted suicide this year through July, according to a report released by the Marine and Family Programs Suicide Prevention Program.

The information has prompted a second look at the Corps' Never Leave a Marine Behind suicide prevention training for non-commissioned Marines and officers.

While the number of deaths represent little change in the average monthly rate of suicides from last year, the rate of attempted suicides edged up slightly.

According to an article in the North County Times Sunday, typical calls to a hotline at 1-877-476-7734 or online Skype visits to the website at www.dstressline.com  ran 10 to 15 minutes.

The Times article stated that callers talked most often about stress with relationships, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse and depression.

Marine suicides have been a source of increasing alarm; prevention efforts to avoid the self-inflicted deaths have been stepped up since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began taking their tolls.

According to the report, suicides in the Marine Corps peaked in 2009, when 52 Marines took their lives. The rate of suicides also shot up that year to 23.7 per 100,000 Marine population. It dropped to 17.2 per 100,000 last year.

In comparison, the civilian suicide rate has held steady between 2002 and 2007 at 19 to 20 deaths per 100,000, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers.

Last month alone, there were four suspected suicides and 13 attempts.

On July 6, Camp Pendleton Sgt. Ian Williams McConnell, 24, from Woodbury, MN, took his life, the Associated Press reported. He had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

An investigation was also launched last month into the suspected suicide at Camp Pendleton of Pfc. Derek Ryan Capulong from Grosse Pointe Woods, MI, the Los Angeles Times reported. His family had warned the base that Capulong was distraught, according to the LAT.

Demographics for the year though July show most of the Marines who died were white, single, between 21 and 25 years old, at paygrade E1 to E3, and had used guns to end their lives.

In response to the suicides, the Marine Corps has instituted several training and support service programs aimed at preventing the deaths and exploring the causes.

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Airborne Ranger August 28, 2012 at 07:33 AM
I'm not sure why the suicide rate in the Marines is higher that the other three services. The Army has considerably more personnel deployed than any other branch. In total 155 service personnel have taken their lives this year. That is about 10 in 100,000 active duty (across all services). There have been 80 in the Army this year. But the reality of it is that overall, the rate is lower than the national average most years. All of the service train their leaders to recognize signs of depression and suicidal tendencies. Much more so than the civilian world does in their businesses. Some of the suicides occurred in country. But the majority occurred back here in the "World" as it is called meaning stateside. It's not so much the pressures of war, it is the re-acclimation back in to society that some of these service men and women have problems with. This is not a service problem, it is a national problem. It would be nice if it could be eliminated but that's not realistic. We want to believe that we are tougher because we are in the service and have seen more horrible things. But that's not true either. It's not what we saw or what we did over there that causes many to contemplate, attempt or commit suicide. It is more the way they are treated back here by our own society. Bottom line here is that the media tends to focus on the military because it is a closed society and easy target. But the numbers are not any different for the rest of the country.
TVOR August 28, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I don't think the military is doing as good a job as in the past of weeding out the weak in basic training. In the past, recruits were subjected to high stress to identify those who can't handle it and remove them from service. It would probably help to make basic training more like it was in the past to reduce the number of people who move on to combat who can't deal with stress.
Airborne Ranger August 28, 2012 at 06:02 PM
In order for that to happen, we would have to go away from the touchy feely society and the coddling that we have been forced to in training our recruits. Trust me when the transitions start to occur none of the Drills or Officers thought it was a good idea. On the other had, the training of our standing military force is still much better than that of other nations. We still train the best in the world. But I can tell you that the stress of real combat cannot be replicated in training. We can do a pretty good job of stressing the troops, but it is not the same. At the end of the day in training the troops know that they will get to go home and have a meal. In combat when the bullets fly, you no longer know if that is true.
V.W.D.S. August 28, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Thank you Net Kit for your service and I agree PTSD is not a joke. I also will say that although I have not served, I have witnessed live training and have stared into the eyes of some very stressed young men due to that training. As I said before, you cannot prepare them for live combat, but our forces do an excellent job putting them through stresses in the attempt to prepare them.
Airborne Ranger August 28, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Net Kit. PTSD has been around a lot longer than the term. PTSD by other names, shell shocked, battlefield fatigue, hibijibies. It's real and it has been around since the first battle between man and beast. My issue is that all of this new research and support is focused only on one group of Vets. Those that have come back in the last 10 years. We seem to forget that the same issues occurred in previous comflicts and those Vet still go ignored today. One friend of mine was in the first Gulf War at a place called 76 Easting. This is where US and Iraqi troops mixed it up but the US Tanks engaged and destroyed 8 of our own vehicles killing and maiming more than 30 soldiers. Besides his physical injuries he rarely goes out at night because night is when the shoot at him so he says. VA to this date has never helped him. My issue is that PTSD is only discussed in reference to the current generation of soldiers.

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