A local study on Marines and sailors and thoughts of suicide has revealed some startling conclusions.
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On Aug. 20, 1999, Marine Sgt. Michael Peterson completed a training hike at Camp Pendleton, drove home, sat on his couch and shot himself in the head.
"My body physically shut down," said Jennifer Tullis, Peterson's wife of eight months. "I went into physical shock."
Tullis was the one who found his body.
"And for a long time, I wish he had taken me with him," she said.
Amid the grief, Tullis said she realized there were signs of an undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.
"His temper was a bit quicker," said Tullis. "He couldn't sleep at night. He was having nightmares."
Peterson had been twice deployed to the Middle East.
According to the Marine Corps Times, a newly-released study from the San Diego-based Naval Research Center focused on looking into the causes of suicides. In a survey of more than 1,500 deployed Marines and sailors, 13 percent reported having suicidal thoughts or plans to attempt suicide.
As for causes, PTSD ranked near the top. The study revealed that Marines and sailors suffering from PTSD, depression and drug abuse are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
Also, deployment stressors including worries about finances or spouses were significantly linked to suicidal thoughts.
The survey also delivered some surprise findings. Alcohol problems did not surface as a predictor for suicidal thoughts. A lack of social support was not a strong predictor.
Tullis, who has worked with support groups and hundreds of loved ones dealing with military suicides, said she does not buy the alcohol finding.
"The majority of the families had sailors or Marines with a drinking problem or were drinking during their suicide attempt," said Tullis.
The military has implemented several programs aimed at suicide prevention, including post-deployment screenings.
If you would like more information on resources preventing suicides in the military, visit http://powsandiego.blogspot.com/
, and http://www.giveanhour.org/
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