Starting in September the Navy will be promoting the message “Every Sailor, Every Day,” to encourage all Sailors, leaders, families and members of the Navy community to strengthen their connections with those around them in accordance with Suicide Prevention Month.
Unfortunately, suicide is currently one of the top causes of death in the Navy, claiming the lives of approximately 44 Sailors in 2013 alone and, according to Navy Personnel Command, 39 lives so far in 2014.
While these statistics suggest a decrease in frequency of total suicide fatalities from previous years, the numbers show that some Sailors are still finding themselves with nowhere to go and no other option.
In an organization that requires the cooperation and unity of every Sailor to accomplish its mission, one suicide is one too many.
According to Lt. David Broderick, a psychologist at Makalapa Mental Health Clinic Pearl Harbor, in addition to the web of resources that target raising awareness, reduction and response to suicide, it is also increasingly important to “get ahead of the problem” and address the social challenges and stigmas that may lay at the crux of the issue.
Lt. James Ragain, a chaplain attached to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, echoed Broderick’s sentiments, saying there are a lot of social challenges and stigmas that come with suicide.
As Ragain described, the programs that are available work effectively to equip individuals with the know-how and insight to identify external indications and red flags, as well as providing help to those who need it, but, “oftentimes the tools can be like giving cough syrup to someone who needs an antibody. We need to get below the surface.”
Lt. Cmdr. Kaarin Coe, a social worker and the Suicide Prevention Coordinator at Military and Family Support Center Pearl Harbor, said: “The Navy’s greatest asset is their people.
“When we take care of each other, we ensure our Navy stays not only ‘Fit to Fight,’ but focused on the mission.”
From September 1-30, “I Pledge to ACT,” a web-based effort, will take place to encourage all Sailors, families and members of the Navy community to take steps in building personal resilience, supporting their shipmates and intervening if they notice signs of distress.