Every Marine who takes his or her own life is more than a number, but the numbers tell a distressing story: the Marine Corps is losing the battle against suicide.
A total of 75 Marines killed themselves in 2018: 57 active-duty Marines and 18 Marines in the Selected Reserves, according to data the Marine Corps provided to Task & Purpose.
As CNN first reported, 2018 saw the highest number of active-duty Marine suicides since 2009.
Of the active-duty Marines who took their own lives, 44 deaths were confirmed suicides while the remaining 13 are suspected as suicide pending notification from the Armed Forces Examiners System, the Corps data says. The suicide data for reserve component Marines does not include Individual Ready Reserve Marines, separated ore retired Marines, or attached sailors.
By comparison, 43 active-duty and 10 Reserve suicides were reported in 2017, according to the Marine Corps data. In 2009, the number of active-duty Marine suicides was 52. No Reserve suicides were recorded for that year.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has devoted significant attention to curbing suicides. In a Jan. 25 message to the Corps, Neller called suicide a "growing problem" and issued a personal appeal for Marines struggling with mental health issues, stress, and pain to seek help.
"We will be there for you," Neller wrote. "Consider the lasting impact on your family, friends, and unit – none of whom will ever truly recover. Don't choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem that can be resolved with the help of your teammates. While there is no dishonor in coming up short or needing help, there is no honor in quitting.
"MARINES NEVER QUIT ON EACH OTHER! For those who are struggling...our Marine Corps, our families, and our Nation need you; we can't afford to lose you."
At the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, suicides were widely viewed as linked to multiple combat tours, but the waning of combat operations has not seen a significant decrease in the number of Marines who kill themselves.
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Roys)
The Navy is investigating reports that a female Marine discovered a hidden camera in one of the women's restrooms aboard the USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock that's currently on at port in Greece, NBC News originally reported.
It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.
"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."
On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.
Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.
"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"
Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.
As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.