So far in 2014, the Navy has seen the biggest increase in suicides among its active duty personnel. Unfortunately, as of the end of July, the Navy experienced 38 suicides, a number that is almost a 50% increase for the branch for the same time last year. In fact, the Navy recorded a total of 43 suicides for all of last year.
The increase in Navy suicides comes as a major blow to the Department of Defense, as there has been a deliberate push to eliminate suicides in all branches of the military. The Navy leadership has made suicide prevention a top priority over the last several years. After last year”s decline, and the significant decline overall, officials were hopeful that their efforts were working.
But Navy brass is not ready to call the increased rate a complete reversal of their suicide prevention labors. Officials said that most of this year’s suicides have been prompted by events that aren’t exclusive to the Navy or its sailors. Instead, the Navy claims that events that commonly precede most civilian suicides prompted the bulk of their 2014 suicides, including family, legal and financial difficulties, removal from a leadership position, and missed promotions at work.
The Navy has been active in implementing suicide prevention programs, both in their individual commands and on their installations, and has taken several measures to reduce sailors” stress, especially among those who deploy.
The Navy recently hired several resiliency counselors who are civilian mental health workers, deploying with crews aboard aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious ships.
Starting this year, the Navy is requiring its deploying sailors to complete a four-hour training course. The course gives sailors the tools needed for managing stress, and teaches sailors and officers in leadership roles to recognize signs of a potential suicide.
All of the men and women serving in the military need to know when and how they can get help if they are having suicidal thoughts. Service members are urged to tell their command, their direct superior, or even a buddy if they feel that they themselves have suicidal thoughts, or witness a comrade who might be.
Service members should call the Military Crisis Line or call 1(800) 273-8255 (then press 1).
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Military Connection: Navy Suicides Up: By Debbie Gregory