Suicide rates among military personnel have been studied more closely than ever over the last two years. The reason for the studies, unfortunately, has been because of the increase in both attempted and successful suicides among military personnel and veterans. The Marine Corps, however, just reported a significant drop in the number of Marines both attempting and completing suicides.
The U.S. Marine Corps documented their lowest monthly numbers of the year in July. For the entire month, the Corps suffered 1 suicide and 9 attempted. These numbers are considerably lower than reported in May, when the Corps documented 7 suicides and 16 attempted. 52 Marines took their own lives last year, which was the highest number of Marine suicides since 2001.
There are approximately 202,000 Marines, of which 22 have killed themselves and 102 have attempted. Nine of the Marines who had taken their own lives were combat veterans, 9 had no history of deployment, and 4 occurred in Afghanistan.
Research was critical in developing suicide prevention programs so that risk factors could be identified. The highest rate of suicides occurred in male combat veterans aged between 18 and 27. Of the Marines who have taken their own lives this year:
- 18 were white;
- 3 were black;
- 1 was Latino;
- 15 were between 17-25;
- 12 were single;
- 9 were married;
- 1 was divorced; and
- 13 involved the use of a gun.
Multiple deployments have been blamed for bringing on increased stress among troops. This has been recognized by suicide prevention programs and signs Marines are mentally struggling have been identified. Such signs include:
- Alcohol and drug abuse; and
- Isolating themselves from friends and family.
The Corps has launched multiple programs attempting to reduce the amount of Marines attempting suicide. These programs include psychological screening both pre- and post- deployment, and transcends all ranks. Hopefully this recent decrease in suicides is the beginning of a trend and not just a fluke. Military suicides accompany wars, but hopefully the Corps’ prevention programs are having the desired effect.
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