The Enemy Within: Preventing Suicide in the Marine Corps
[Technical Report, Monograph]
US Army School for Advanced Military Studies
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Despite a major reduction in combat deployments, suicide remains a major issue in the US Marine Corps. In 2018, the Marine Corps recorded its highest number of suicides, and was also the service with the highest proportional number of suicides in the Department of Defense. The suicide rate among Marines has risen in parallel with the American population, notwithstanding rigorous mental health screening and suicide prevention training. This epidemic has a significant impact on readiness because of its multicausal nature and its negative shock to the immeasurable morale of units. Current approaches to suicide prevention focus on identifying warning signs and seeking care, but prevention also occurs through an understanding of socialization. Training and doctrine should address the effects of socialization on the individual Marine. This monograph studies statistics, prevention policies, and applicable case studies to understand suicide and its relation to human isolation and socialization. Indoctrination at military boot camp is limited in its transformation ability. Individuals create their worldview long before enlistment, making their reactions to trauma and stress vastly unique. The elements of socialization cannot be changed in some cases. However, they can be understood. This is when suicide prevention occurs yet is sometimes never known. Sustaining the transformation from civilian to Marine is vital to preventing suicide and addressing mental health issues. The Marine Corps must continue to stress the importance of social health, unit cohesion, and engaged leadership to prevent the loneliness and isolation that exist in American society today.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Military Forces and Organizations