Top Marine Makes Plea to End Suicide, Says 'Zero Shame' in Admitting Problem
By Gina Harkins
24 May 2019
"We are all 'broken' in our own way -- and we all need help at times," Neller said. "It is critical we understand and respect that."The Marine Corps insignia is visible behind Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller as he takes questions from reporters at the unveiling of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaign engravings on the USMC War Memorial (Iwo Jima), Nov. 21, 2017, in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
"Marines are in a fight to save their fellow comrades, and they must approach that fight with the same intensity they apply to other battles," he added. In the nearly four years Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has led the Marine Corps, the service has lost a rifle company-worth of Marines to suicide, and he says it's time to have a frank conversation about what's causing that.
Active-duty suicide rates in the Navy and Marine Corps reached a 10-year high last year. Seventy-seven active-duty and Reserve Marines died by suicide in 2018, and another 354 attempted it.
It's clear that Marines are struggling, Neller wrote in a letter to the force this week, and it's time to be honest about stress and trauma causing them mental stress.
"Let me be clear up front, there is zero shame in admitting one's struggles in life -- trauma, shame, guilt or uncertainty about the future -- and asking for help," he said in a two-page letter about mental illness addressed to Marines, sailors and their families.
Neller accompanied the letter with a raw video posted to social media in which he tells Marines that life is tough, just as being a Marine is tough. "Nobody said this was going to be easy, but you can deal with this. It has to be dealt with."
"Let us help," Neller added. "... If you can't do something, then OK fine. Your buddy's there to do it. And if your buddy can't help you, then we'll take you to a higher echelon of care."
"There's nothing wrong with that," he adds.
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