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Mandatory suicide prevention training expanded to junior Marines

By Pfc. Sean Dennison | | January 13, 2011

Junior enlisted Marines and sailors will now receive new suicide prevention training as part of their annual training requirements, effective immediately. 

According to Marine Administrative Message 022/11, released Jan. 10, 2011, the training is an expansion of noncommissioned officers’ "Never Leave A Marine Behind" suicide prevention program and must be completed by fiscal year 2011.

All junior Marines and sailors are required to receive this documented training only once, though it can also double as their annual suicide prevention training.

"Every Marine is at risk for suicide," said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Martin, the Corps’ suicide prevention program manager. "We want every Marine to be aware of the risk factors and warning signs of suicide."

Junior enlisted will participate in interactive group discussions for 90 minutes, led by a sergeant certified in suicide awareness.

Previously, suicide prevention training was required only for NCOs.

According to Martin, a major change to the curriculum is the training video, "Never Leave a Marine Behind." The movie was edited to present the topic of suicide from a junior enlisted point of view, focusing more on interpersonal relationships and mutual trust between junior Marines and sailors rather than NCOs.

"It’s okay to get help," said Martin. "Getting help won’t end a career."

As well, the previous acronym, PRESS, which guided Marines on suicide awareness, "prevention, prepare, recognize, engage, send and sustain" will be replaced by RACE, "recognize, ask, care and escort," which emphasizes quicker recognition on the signs of suicide contemplation.

According to Headquarters Marine Corps, the rate of suicide among civilians was higher than the Corps’ up until 2009. The suicide prevention program truly took off that year when a noticeable spike in suicides showed itself in the statistics. The number of suicides dropped from 52 in 2009 to 37 in 2010. However, the number of suicide attempts has risen steadily since 2006, with 2010 seeing more than 160 attempts.

"The big problem is in the junior ranks statistically," said Sgt. Jordan Jones, station suicide prevention trainer. "They come into the Marine Corps at a young age and are less equipped to handle the stress factor than the more experienced Marines."

For more information, refer to MarAdmin 022/11.

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