The Right to Die: The Latest Quantico Suicide

Since January 1, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., reportedly has lost six Marines – four to suicide, two to stupidity.

The pacing and wringing of hands has begun. Finger pointing is surely next. Top-level officers and enlisted honchos will meet to look at the rash of deaths. It is quite a bit of deadly activity for a relatively small population.

Recently, in one week’s time, Quantico lost three Marines – one suicide and the two stupid people. Well, there were more stupid people since others were involved and the alcohol seems to have been flowing freely. Kids: Firearms and alcohol do not mix.

But we digress. Of particular interest is Quantico’s most recent suicide. The death of a 20-year-old Marine may not be remarkable. The efforts of his division to help him are.

This close-knit office run by a good-guy lieutenant colonel (and Naval Academy grad, we might add) recognized the struggles of the young Marine. They were involved with him, working to help him overcome his challenges.

His roommate tried to help. The day before the incident, the roommate found his suicidal bunkmate drinking heavily, interceded and helped him to bed. They spent the next day together hanging out, shopping, doing what young friends do. The two went to bed that second night around 10 pm. Within a few hours, the police were pounding on the door. They were looking for the lance corporal, having found his identification by the railroad tracks. They found human remains too. While his roommate slept, he left the room, headed to train tracks that run through Quantico, and laid in the next train’s path.

The survivors are stricken. In an office that seemed hyper vigilant, a young man still slipped away. Some time ago, a member of the office wrote about his thoughts on staving off the increase in suicides. Now this group second guesses what more it could have done. Once harmonious, they are now angry. The upbeat director is sullen and frustrated. An optimistic lieutenant is now sardonic, caustic, bitter. One staff NCO is obsessing over the probable investigation, calling buddies to see how these things go.

Even in the best situations, suicide is a choice. A deadly, final choice, but ultimately a choice. Media scrutiny on the number of suicides has added challenges. No matter. People will continue to kill themselves. How else does one stop the pain? Apparently few have satisfactory answers for those who suffer.

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