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Marine suicides reach highest rate since 2009

An American flag hangs on the back of a participant during the Chicago Honor the Fallen Ruck March. (Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret/U.S. Army)
January 31, 2019

Active duty Marine suicide has reached the highest rate in a decade.

Marine Corps data suggests that 57 cases were reported in 2018, and that doesn’t include the 18 Marine reserves suicides, bringing the toll to 75, Fox 5 News reported.

Of the 57 active-duty Marine suicide deaths, 44 were confirmed suicides, and 13 are under investigation but believed to be suicides, according to Task & Purpose.

The increase in Marine reserve suicides is more difficult to track since that data has only been recorded since 2012.

In 2009, 52 active duty Marine suicides were recorded, but no data provided on reservists.

The concern is that most of the suicides are not from Marines returning from deployment. Most have never even been deployed.

The suicide rates are climbing even with the mental health programs that are made available to Marines.

An official with the Marine Corps referring to the data said, “Don’t make them just numbers.”

Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller sent out a lengthy memo to Marines in which he highlighted Marine suicides. “I am personally compelled to say something about suicide and mental health. If you need help, please ask/speak up … we will be there for you. Consider the lasting impact on your family, friends, and unit — none of whom will ever truly recover. Don’t choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem that can be resolved with the help of your teammates,” he wrote.

Neller added, “While there is no dishonor in coming up short, or needing help, there is no honor in quitting. For those who are struggling … our Marine Corps, our families, and our Nation need you; we can’t afford to lose you.”

It is not only the Marines seeing an increase in suicides; suicide rates are increasing across all military branches.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs data released in June 2018, suicide rates increased for both veterans and non-veterans across all branches from 2005 to 2015.

“The data was provided by VA and affiliates to prevent suicide and increase the network of support for Veterans,” the VA said.

Acting VA Secretary Mr. Peter O’Rourke said, “Suicide remains a top clinical priority. One life lost to suicide is one too many. Suicide is a serious public health concern in the Veteran population and across all communities nationwide. These data offer important insights to help VA to build effective networks of support, communication and care that reach Veterans where they live and thrive.”