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    Call for Action - Speak out on Suicide Prevention



    Story by Lance Cpl. Paige Verry 

    Marine Corps Base Quantico

    Behind every stellar Marine is an amateur, who fought to earn the title. Unmotivated Marines carry hardships, which many times lead to their decline. Within every warrior resides a human being and the story of their foundation.

    Mental health is often stigmatized, ignored, and brushed under the rug. Recovery and suicide prevention is a nationally relevant topic and we have ample opportunity to bring these issues to light, in hopes of reaching those in need and ultimately providing a pathway to the resources available.

    Mental health affects people of all ranks and billets. Newly promoted Cpl. Mikayla Perez, a graphic design specialist with Commstrat, shares her perspective as a junior Marine, and her transition as a noncommissioned officer.

    “Corporals often feel the pressure of being a leader to their junior Marines, and lance corporals feel the pressure of outperforming their peers in order to earn that next rank,” Perez said. “It isn’t just pressures at work.

    “Marines are going through things in their personal lives at the same time. While in the Marine Corps, I’ve suffered two different abusive relationships that destroyed my confidence, and a car accident that set me back physically.”

    Leadership stress may not be just for the middle levels of managing and mentoring, but also for senior leaders.

    “Staff NCOs are taught they must be stoic to be a leader,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jeremy Kofsky, an operation specialist and team chief with 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. “They must never show weakness, because in moments of stress Marines look to their leadership for guidance.

    “The larger issue with this becomes junior Marines strive to emulate these characteristics so they can pick up rank, learning that they can never relax, or use necessary coping skills for their mental health in the process.”

    According to National Institution of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is among the top ten leading causes of death in the United States, averaging 129 suicides per day. Many factors contribute to suicide: such as hopelessness, abuse, assault, loss, psychiatric disorders, chronic pain, and substance abuse.

    NIMH also found the rate of suicide among active duty service members in 2018 was at its all-time high in 6 years with 321 taking their lives. Fifty-seven of these individuals were U.S. Marines. These 57 deaths were a shocking 25 percent increase for the Corps since 2017.

    “A lot of Marines are very prideful,” said Perez. “They think that under all circumstances they need to be mentally and physically strong.

    “They consider counseling and medication as being weak.” she continued. “I am healing from my hardships by learning about anxiety, and understanding why things happen, through counseling and other resources available to me.”

    Some may find the variety of options on base astonishing, ranging from: Community Counseling, Behavioral Health Clinic, the Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center, Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, Military One Source and more.

    “If you have things going on at home, and then you go to work and feel alone there too, it negatively impacts the team as a whole. It’s okay to not be okay,” said Sgt. Kayla Soles, a Semper Fit recreation specialist with Marine Corps Base Quantico.

    Soles’ coping mechanisms to deal with daily stress include, meditation, exercise, talking to her family, and remaining involved and connected with the community.

    A consensus among many Marines concludes some do not feel comfortable confronting their fellow peers, or their leaders about their hardships. The Community Counseling Center aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico provides a confidential counseling program with licensed therapists that exclusively communicate to the individual being treated. Unless a risk of hurting oneself or another individual is present in a session, the information shared there is kept between you and your therapist.

    “Our two main focuses are relationship problems, and work stressors,” said Mary Joe Beck, supervisor of Community Counseling, Marine Corps Base Quantico. “We also help with processing grief and loss.

    “We try to work with whatever brings you in the door, weather it a service member or a family member in need. Our main priority is preventing things from happening, and supporting them when they do.”

    Many Marines use these resources and have found a pathway to recovery through them.

    “I have been through CSACC, Behavioral Health, Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment, and Intensive Outpatient Treatment,” said Kofsky. “I think I have learned a bit form all of them but the most important for me was individual counseling sessions.”

    “The TBI clinic has held classes on anxiety, PTSD, and provided psychological testing that really helped me to understand my condition. Learning about yourself and what contributes to your emotions really does help,” said Perez.

    “I see a counselor, and I would never be ashamed to tell my Marines that,” said Soles.

    To locate more information on suicide prevention and resources available visit https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml and http://www.quantico.usmc-mccs.org/index.cfm/marine-family/behavioral-health-program/

    If you, or someone you know is suicidal, speak up and reach out!
    You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Life Line at 1-800-273-8255, or text CONNECT to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to be connected to a trained crisis counselor.



    Date Taken: 09.27.2019
    Date Posted: 10.07.2019 08:57
    Story ID: 344143
    Location: QUANTICO, VA, US 

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