Suicide awareness and the Marine Corp

18 Jul 2006 | Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Fleischman

claiming more that 30,000 lives a year, the leading cause of death for all Americans and the second leading cause of death in the Marine Corps and the Navy, is neither a virus or a drug, its suicide.

The Marine Corps offers a variety of methods to receive help but prevention begins with Marines watching out for Marines using AIDLIFE.
Ask and do not be afraid to ask “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” or “Are you thinking about suicide?”

Intervene immediately, take action and let the person know he or she is not alone.
Don’t keep it a secret.

Locate help. Seek out the officer on duty, chaplain, physician, corpsman, fiend, family member, crisis line worker, or emergency room staff.

Inform the chain of command of the situation. The chain of command can secure necessary assistance resources for the long term. Suicide risk does not get better with quick solutions. Effective problem-solving takes time and the chain of command can monitor progress to help avert future difficulties.

Find someone to stay with the person now. Do not leave the person alone.

Expedite and get help now. An at-risk person needs immediate attention from professional caregivers.

Key risk factors for suicide are depression, substance abuse, talk or hints of suicide intent, previous suicide attempts, preoccupation with death, giving away possessions, relationship difficulties, impulsive or angry behavior, legal or financial trouble, isolation or withdrawal, chronic pain or illness and changes in work performance, according to the American Association of Sociology website

Marines are less likely to experience serious emotional difficulties when they feel that they are involved with a unit, they are helpful to others, they are valued for their contributions, unit morale is good, the command supports them in times of need, that it is ok to ask for help with problems large and small and getting help will be handled in a confidential and supportive manner, according to the AAS.

Most suicides occur among white males under 30 in the enlisted ranks while in leave or liberty status, however, the suicide risk can be found in all ranks, in both genders and across all races, according to the AAS.

Local help sources include calling 911, US Naval Hospital here at 450-4840, Community Counseling Center at 451-2864, Brynn Marr Help Line at 577-1900, the base chaplain at 451-3210 or the battalion chaplain at 451-5998.