Local service members attended Building the Warrior Within, an annual event focused on mental, emotional and physical fitness in support of suicide prevention on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, Sept. 24 and Sept. 27. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States each year. Suicide is also the second leading cause of death for military members, according to the Center for Deployment Psychology.

In 2018, 75 Marines across active and reserve Marine forces ended their own lives and 63% were Marines 25 years old or younger. This is the highest suicide rate the Corps has experienced in the past 10 years.

According to their website, Building the Warrior Within is about developing mental toughness and creating self-worth. This event is designed to equip service members with tools to manage life's stressors.

"The majority of Marines who die by suicide have no known history of seeking behavioral health care," said Maj. Craig Thomas, a spokesman with Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

Hundreds of Marines and Sailors attended theexpo to learn about mechanisms to cope with adversity and discover resources that are available when experiencing unwelcomed, negative, self-defeating or suicidal thoughts. The event also promoted different resources available to Marines and Sailors on base, off base and online.

"I've never been to Building the Warrior Within or any other event like this," said Lance Cpl. Chase Hudgens, a motor transport operator with 2nd Transportation Support Battalion. "I think it's good that our commands encourage us to go and learn about resources we might need one day."

The DSTRESS line provides free, anonymous counseling for Marines, Sailors and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone support is available at (877)-476-7734.