Marine Commandant: 2012 Will Be a ‘Tough Year’ For Military Suicides

August 29, 2012 - 10:25 AM

New Marines

This undated handout advertising poster provided by the US Marine Corps, will be distributed at Marine Corps recruiting stations as part of a new Corps television, web and print advertising campaign being launched this weekend. (AP Photo/US Marine Corps)

(CNSNews.com) - Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, speaking at the National Press Club (NPC) in Washington, D.C., said that despite efforts to “abate” the problem, he expects 2012 will be a “tough year” for military suicides in “all the services.”

Amos cited a decline in the suicide rate for combat veterans of the Marine Corps before making those comments.

“What are you doing to address the alarming suicide rate among our combat veterans?” the event’s moderator asked the general, reading off pre-written questions from the NPC luncheon’s audience open to club members, reporters, and the general public.

“Even with the attention of the leadership, I think all the services this year are feeling it, and I guess what I would tell everybody here is there is through no shortage of great effort and leadership on the part of all the services to try to abate this, but this year I think is going to be a tough year for all the services,” said the top Marine corps officer.

“Three years ago we hit the top of probably the most we’ve ever had since we started tracking – that’s 52. We put a full court press on the leadership, and interestingly enough, it was the young corporals and sergeants that came forward and said, ‘Let us do this,’” he added.

“So we spent no shortage of effort and put together interactive videos with real Marines using the language that real Marines use, which surprised everybody we would actually put something in print like that, and the Marines talk to one another in this, and it was led by non-commissioned officers. The next year the suicide rate dropped to I think 39 from 52. Last year, it dropped to 32,” Amos said.

The Associated Press first reported on Aug. 16 that the eight suicides that the Marine Corps had in July was “its highest monthly total of 2012 and pushed its total for the year so far to 32 — equal to the Marines' total for all of 2011.”

“This year we’ve gone back, and now we have the same interactive video. I mean that’s what the youngsters of today, they’re electronic, they’re learned by that as long as you don’t try to throw a bunch of garbage at them, and we got it for young officers and really [for] what I call our baby Marines – you know our brand new ones,” also said the commandant.

He went on to say that even with the video and the attention of the leadership, all the services are feeling the impact of the suicide rate this year.

According to the report by the Associated Press, the Army reported that “26 active-duty soldiers killed themselves in July, compared with 12 in June,” adding that “the July total was the highest for any month since the Army began reporting suicides by month in 2009.”

The 116 suicides among active duty soldiers that the Army recorded between January and July are on track to outpace the 167 that took place in 2011, the report added.

There were no yearly totals provided for the Navy and the Air Force in the Aug. 16 report.

It has been widely reported that the military is looking into antidepressant nasal sprays to bring down the suicide rate.