A double homicide at the Marines' base in Quantico, Va., followed by the suicide of a Marine in his barracks, appears linked to a relationship dispute. The incident is likely to include an examination of the prevalence of suicide within military ranks.
Cpl. Antwaun L. Jefferson/US Marine Corps/AP
A double homicide followed by the suicide of a Marine in his barracks Thursday night highlights a problem with which the US military has been grappling mightily: active-duty personnel who take their own lives.
The shootings occurred at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, in which a fight broke out, reportedly over a relationship dispute. The victims included two men and a woman, all Marines.
The gunman was pronounced dead of an apparent inflicted gunshot wound, according to a Marine Corps statement.
By Friday morning the base returned to normal operations, but the investigation surrounding the incident will no doubt include the prevalence of suicide within the ranks of the military.
The extent to which the Pentagon is grappling with the specter of suicide within its ranks was apparent Thursday, during a congressional hearing on the topic scheduled in part to explain why the Army had a record 324 suicides last year.
For the active duty in particular, those figures rose to 183 in 2012, up from 148 in 2009.
As with the reported suicide Thursday, “many” troops who have taken their lives “had experienced a failed intimate relationship,” Jacqueline Garrick, acting director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, which was created in 2011, told lawmakers Thursday, before the tragedy at Quantico unfolded.
Indeed, in nonfatal suicide attempts, most of which occur in Caucasian men under age 25, “slightly more than half had a failed intimate relationship,” she said.