According to the World Health Organization (WHO) approximately one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds, tallying 800,000 people a year. With 326,612 Active Sailors as of August 13, 2015 and 110,076 Reserve Sailors as of June 2015 in the U.S., according to the status of the Navy on Navy.mil. Navy suicide prevention is of the utmost importance ensuring Sailors are taken care of.
In 2012 the Navy had 64 suicides between its active and reserve components. That number decreased to 46 in 2013 and raised in 2014 to 68 according to Department of Defense.
A lesser-known fact is that for every one suicide death, there are at least 30 suicide attempts according to Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC).
That means in 2012 there were approximately 1,920 suicide attempts between active and reserve components.
Making sure Sailors know the risk factors associated with suicide helps the Navy as a whole take care of its personnel.
Some of these risk factors according to NMCPHC include: history of depression and other mood disorders, past suicide attempts or a family history of suicide, alcohol and other substance use disorders, lack of social support and sense of isolation, major physical illness, loss of relationship or significant personal loss, history of trauma or abuse, impulsive or aggressive tendencies, anxiety, hopelessness, and job, financial, school or legal problems.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death globally for ages 15-29 according to WHO.
According to Defense Manpower Data Center, 60.9 percent of the Navy’s forces are 30 years of age or younger as of Sept. 2013.
One way the Navy and the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) work with Sailors to enlighten them on suicide awareness is through the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and safeTALK training.
Every Sailor checking onboard the Nimitz is required to complete the safeTALK workshop, which prepares anyone over the age of 15 to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources.
ASIST is a two day workshop that takes a deeper look into recognizing invitations for help, reaching out and offering support, reviewing the risk of suicide, applying a suicide intervention model and linking people with community resources.
According to NMCPHC many Sailors don’t want to seek help because they’re worried about their career, they think they will be judged, they feel hopeless, isolated and disconnected, but help is always readily available and should always be sought after.
Nimitz has a resiliency counselor onboard, as well as a psychologist, a behavioral health tech and chaplains available to help Sailors. Off the ship there’s also Fleet and Family Support Center and Naval Hospital Bremerton.
Immediate assistance can be found by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1, texting the military crisis line at 838255 and chatting live online at http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ActiveDuty.aspx.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, let somebody know. There are people ready to talk and work through any obstacles you may be facing.
Story by MC3 William Blees