The key to preventing suicide among our Marines is engaged leadership, from small unit leaders all the way up through the chain of command. Our noncommissioned officers are our first line of defense when it comes to recognizing the warning signs of personal distress. Suicide exacts a tremendous toll on our Marines, their families and our mission readiness. Every Marine is responsible for establishing a personal and professional relationship with their Marines such that they can see warning signs and intervene before the issue escalates.
We must make suicide awareness, prevention and intervention a priority. Marines may not want to discuss personal issues for fear of appearing to be weak. We have to make it very clear it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. I charge all leaders to pay attention to their Marines. Pay attention to every aspect of their lives so there are no ‘surprises.’ You are accountable to foster an environment in which asking for help is okay; where it’s seen as a strength and not a weakness. Learn to ask the hard questions: What’s going on? Are you thinking about killing yourself? What can we do to help?
This is the tough part of our business of leading Marine — but it’s a necessary part.
We all have an obligation as Marines to make a difference in the lives of our fellow Marines. As Marines, we pride ourselves in taking care of our own; we never leave a Marine behind on the battlefield — ever. And we will not do it in our daily lives either. Continue aggressively promoting suicide awareness and prevention at all levels. We absolutely need your help if we are to continue reducing the number of suicides within our Corps. A single suicide is one too many. I need every Marine in full battery, ready for the next fight!