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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Suicide sweeps California based Marine Corps unit


Suicide sweeps California based Marine Corps unit
OCEANSIDE – We’ve heard the staggering statistic that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. That statistic may be a low estimate. The VA study that released the number covered suicide rates in 21 states. Data from states with the highest population of veterans, including California, was not included. CW 6’s Amy DuPont meet with Marines from a California-based unit that has suffered more casualties from suicide than combat.
Pamela Kass knew this day was coming. She knew she would bury her son. Pamela knew her son Christopher couldn’t heal from the invisible wounds he suffered serving his country. She knew she couldn’t save him and that Christopher was unable to save himself.
Chris served with and deployed with the 2nd battalion 7th marine regiment based out of Twenty Nine Palms until he left the Marine Corps in 2013.  That’s when, like too many other marines from the 2/7, Chris starting to give up on life. “We’re doing something wrong. We’re letting them die. We ask them to serve our country to help another but then we’re not ensuring they are okay. That mentally they are okay. I don’t get it.”, says Pamela.
Suicide has spread through the 2/7 like a virus.  According to men who once served with the unit, at least 25 marines from the 2/7 have committed suicide since 2009. “I don’t count anymore. More people out of the 2/7 have died because of suicide than combat.”, say former 2/7 Marine Eric Durosky.
Chris joined the ranks of the fallen on march 28th. One month after his 26th birthday. His mom says because Chris was over 18 and he refused to seek  treatment there was nothing she could do. “We tried our best to get help for him. I think the system failed him. We begged for help for him, and we failed him.”
No one understands why the suicide rate among men of the 2/7 is 4 times the rate of other young male veterans. The men who’ve taken their own lives served at different times and in different conflicts. Some were fired upon. Others were not. Members of the 2/7 believe saving lives needs to start long before all men leave active duty.  “It needs to be done in house. It needs to be veterans. It needs to be people in that unit that talk each other and say I’ve felt that way before. You can get through it, don’t take that way out. It’s not a way out.”
Pamela Kass knew she would bury her son. Now she knows 25 other moms have done the same. She prays she is the last. “I don’t want to see someone else go through the same pain we are going through. If we can save a life maybe more then he doesn’t die in vain.”
The Mendleton foundation is helping at- risk California veterans find one another. Members, many of whom served, pour over social media pages and reach out to vets who post anything that appears to be a cry for help. The foundation also help families like Chris’ by providing them with uniform items at funerals.

The VA also offers a 24 hr. suicide prevention hotline. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also text 838255.
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