Despite widespread efforts to reduce the number of Marines killing themselves, the Corps recorded 26 suspected or confirmed suicides in the first half of 2009, officials said.
The statistics were released Monday at the Sergeants Major Symposium inWashington, an annual meeting of the Corps’ top enlisted leaders in Washington.
The 26 dead Marines put the Corps on pace for 52 in 2009, which would be the most since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003. Last year, the Corps lost 42 Marines to confirmed or suspected suicides, up from 25 in 2006 and 33 in 2007.
“We’re looking at all options to get a handle on this,” Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent, the Corps’ top enlisted adviser, told the Militarytimes.com reporter. “We’re trying to pinpoint what we can do, and we’re going to stay engaged until we find a fix for it.”
Senior enlisted leaders discussed more enhanced suicide-prevention training that has been formulating for several months, with non-commissioned officers Corps wide trained to watch for signs, and "master trainer" sergeants deploying throughout the Corps to train others.
“Peer groups have to recognize the signs at ankle level, not chest level,” Sgt. Maj. Michael Timmerman, the senior enlisted adviser with the Personal and Family Readiness Division at Marine Corps headquarters, was quoted as saying.