February 25, 2005

Suicides in Marine Corps Rise by 29%; Fast Pace of Operations Are Believed to Contribute

By Ann Scott Tyson / Washington Post

The Marine Corps suffered a 29 percent spike in suicides last year, reaching the highest number in at least a decade, with the demanding pace of military operations likely contributing to the deaths, the top-ranking U.S. Marine said yesterday.

Thirty-one Marines committed suicide in 2004, all of them enlisted men, not commissioned officers. The majority were younger than 25 and took their lives with gunshot wounds, according to Marine statistics. Another 83 Marines attempted suicide. There were 24 suicides in 2003, and there have not been more than 29 in any year in the last 10.

Although last year's suicide rate rose, it was still below the national average for a comparable civilian group, in keeping with an established pattern of suicide being lower in the U.S. military than in the civilian population.

Marine commanders say the rise in suicides continues a worrisome three-year trend that is likely linked to stress from the sharply increased pace of war-zone rotations. At the same time, they said the increase in suicides is not directly related to service in Iraq or Afghanistan; since 2001 24 percent of the suicides have been committed by Marines who have been deployed there, the statistics show.

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Didn't Hitler kill himself too?

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