‘L.A. Times’: Suicides Among U.S. Marines on Record Pace This Year

By: Greg Mitchell

The surging suiicide rate among U.S. forces in Iraq has belatedly gained wide attention this year, but the problem is also growing stateside among troops who have served in a war zone.

A Los Angeles Times report by Tony Perry published today underlines this.

An excerpt follows. It is at www.latimes.com
The basic rule for Marine boot camp is simple: Keep your mouth shut and mind your own business. But it’s different when the subject is suicide.

Drill instructors encourage recruits to share their feelings in so-called “guided discussions,” and tell them to watch out for, and promptly report, warning signs in their buddies.

The suicide rate in the active-duty Marine Corps was 16.5 per 100,000 in 2007 – below the active-duty Army and a similar demographic in the civilian population. But it was a jump from 12.9 in 2006.

In the first half of 2008, 25 Marines committed suicide, the most in that length of time since records have been kept. If that early trend persists, this year could prove the most deadly for Marine suicides since at least the beginning of the war in Afghanistan.

Judging from risk factors, Marine enlistees are prime candidates for suicide. They are young men far from home and family support. They are being stressed to their mental and physical limits. Their coping skills are still maturing.

The majority of Marine suicides occur stateside.

Of the 25 who killed themselves this year, eight had never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, 15 had a war-zone deployment but had returned, and two committed suicide in Iraq.

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