Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort --
The Department of Defense is fighting against suicide, and gaining ground. Defense officials told the Associated Press that suicide in the Marine Corps has decreased 11 percent this year.
The Marine Corps continues to push back against suicide by training individual Marines in prevention techniques.
“Suicide can happen to anyone,” said Jeanette Smith, suicide prevention specialist for the Tri-Command. “It can strike all races, all genders, all ages. It’s very important to be aware of suicide prevention techniques, especially evidence-based suicide prevention tools.”
Suicide prevention education teaches Marines how to help a Marine in distress. The key word for Marines is RACE – recognize, ask, care and escort. Training covers everything from possible signs of suicide to available prevention resources.
“It gives them the knowledge to handle a distressing situation,” said Smith. “Everyone should know how to prevent suicide, not just for your fellow Marines, but also for yourself. Every Marine, every spouse, every family member is important to the Marine Corps.”
Suicide can affect families, friends, unit morale, cohesion, even unit readiness.
“The bottom line is we have to take care of each other,” said Smith. “You spend more time with each other than with your families . Who better to keep an eye on you to make sure you’re okay than your fellow Marine?”
Ideally, prevention is continuous. Suicide prevention is not just a class or training, but a proactive strategy to maintain readiness, morale and well-being. Suicide training is frequent, focusing on peer-to-peer support, intervention and getting help early.
Smith recommends following up annually required suicide prevention training with supplemental education from a suicide prevention specialist, and keeping the discussion open by talking about suicide in the office.
“I don’t want any parent or any Marine to feel that pain of losing a Marine or losing a family member,” said Smith. “We need to lead from the front with prevention, because prevention saves lives.
“The earlier you get a person into treatment, the more successful the outcome will be. Your life is your life. Value your life, and value yourself. The Marine Corps wants you to get help.”
The following prevention resources are available for free: Chaplains, Marine Corps Suicide Prevention Program, Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), Behavioral Health Counselors 843-228-6126/1620, Military & Family Life Counselors 843-340-2589/843-592-2075, Military OneSource, and the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-SUICIDE).