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Senior leaders speak about suicide prevention

By Pfc. Dylan Bowyer | | September 19, 2013

There have been 30 suicides in the Marine Corps so far this year, putting the service on track to match last year’s 48 suicides, which was the worst year for the Corps since the Pentagon started filing annual reports in 2008.

The nation observes September as suicide prevention month. For those in the armed forces, it’s a time to raise awareness and remember the service members lost to suicide.

“We must make suicide awareness, prevention and intervention a priority,” Gen. James Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marines Corps said, in a 2012 statement to Marines.

The Pentagon began filing annual reports tracking suicide numbers in 2008. Last year was the worst year to date for the services, with more than 349 service members taking their own lives.

In response to the fight against suicide, the DoD has instituted mandatory annual classes and programs to educate service members on the signs and symptoms of suicide so they can better help those in need.

The commandant of the Marine Corps wants Marines to know they can receive help through their chain of command, chaplains and suicide prevention advocates without fear of appearing weak.

“We have to make it very clear it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help,” Amos said. 

Military health provides access to counselors and personnel who are trained to help with stress and personal welfare. 

“Seeking behavioral health care is a choice that embodies moral courage, honor and integrity,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “Those values are at the foundation of what we stand for and what we defend.”

Hagel wants service members to look out for one another.

“When one of us faces a challenge, we all must stand together,” Hagel said. “By fighting as one team, we can – and we will – help prevent suicide.”

For confidential help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, call the DStress hotline at 1-877-476-7734 or visit http://www.dstressline.com/