Marines get personal look at suicide effects

28 Jul 2009 | Lance Cpl. Justis T. Beauregard

Marines received a first hand experience of the affects of suicide as a Marine wife told the story of her first husband’s suicide.

Jay Chen, wife of Lt. Col. Cliff D. Chen, the commanding officer of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 11, spoke to the Marines to show the effects of suicide through her personal experience during MALS-11 safety brief at the Bob Hope Theater, July 28.

This was the first time Jay spoke publicly of her husband’s suicide.

As the wife of a Marine, she knows suicide is a rising problem in the Marine Corps.

Jay talked about how surprised she was by her first husband’s suicide 11 years ago and how hard it has been to live with.

“I couldn’t fathom why he would take his life,” said Jay. “You wonder if there was anything you could have done differently or say that would have made a difference. I want you to know that the trail of devastation that suicide leaves behind is extremely powerful,” Jay told the assembled Marines.

The theater was silent as Jay told her personal account of the suicide.

“The saying ‘life is too short,’ is an old cliché but I personally know it’s true because I was married for five months when he died, We dated for nine years, and five months after we were married he was gone.”

Jay told the Marines if they ever have thoughts of suicide, to call a friend, family member or someone they trust.

“When I hear of Marines wanting to take their life it really breaks my heart,” said Jay. “If they knew what they were leaving behind for their family and friends I feel they would think twice.”

After her speech, Col. Kevin J. Killea, the commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 11, stressed the importance of unit cohesion to prevent suicide.

“The window of time to become in tune with each other is really small,” said Killea. “If you’re not in tune with the Marines around you, you will miss the window to help prevent a suicide.”

If you or someone you know is thinking of committing suicide, call Marine Corps Community Services at 858-577-6585, the Medical Acute Care Clinic at 858-577-9849, or the MCAS Miramar Chaplain at 858-577-7367. During off-duty hours, call the Command Duty Officer 858-577-1141, the Naval Medical Center San Diego Emergency Room at 619-532-6400, or the Military police Dispatch at 858-577-4059. The 24 hour suicide hotline is always available at 800-479-3339.