As Suicides Soar, Marines Launch Another Study, Issue Gag Order on Details; Locations, Methods Now Withheld

Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, revealed in an interview with Marine Corps Times in July that he attempted suicide a year before he received his medal. Meanwhile, Marine Corps officials revealed at least 32 active duty Marines took their own lives during July. The number of suicides among reserve component Marines and members of the individual ready reserves has not been published. Reserve members have been heavily used in Afghanistan and Iraq. (D0D)

MILITARY: Study of Marine Suicides Getting Under Way

by Mark Walker
North County Times, Aug. 25, 2012

With active-duty Marines taking their own lives at a near-record pace this year, officials are launching a long-planned study of what troops who have committed suicide were doing in the days leading up to their deaths.

Officials are also taking a deep look at the service’s “Never Leave a Marine Behind” suicide prevention program to see whether it needs tailoring.

The two actions come as the Marine Corps reported eight suicides in July, the highest number recorded this year.

Those deaths raised this year’s self-inflicted death toll to 32, the same number recorded for all of 2011. If the monthly trend continues, the Marine Corps could match or exceed the record 52 active-duty troop suicides recorded in 2009.

The “forensic” study of recent suicides is designed as a detailed examination of what the troops were doing throughout each day leading to the event.

I think we’re on the right track. We’re also doing everything we can to move our prevention efforts to further reduce any stigma. Seeking help needs to be seen as a sign of strength — Master Gunnery Sgt. Phillip Bush, Marine Corps suicide prevention office senior enlisted adviser

“We’re really anxious to see what we can learn from reaching out to family members and friends and using (investigative) reports,” said Todd Shuttleworth, who oversees the Marine Corps’ suicide prevention program from the service’s headquarters in Quantico, Va.

The wealth of information the study aims to generate will help guide officials in evaluating current efforts and shaping changes or new initiatives, he said.

“We want to effectively be able to teach Marines the warning signs and how to seek help early, before a situation becomes a crisis, and teach them that it is OK to ask for help,” Shuttleworth said during a telephone interview last week.

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