The US Navy investigates 4 suicides at the same facility in one month.
According to a Navy official, the US Navy is currently investigating four suicides that occurred at a US Navy shore-based facility over a period of one month. The purpose of the investigation is to determine if the deaths were related and whether sailors received enough mental health care and support.
Between October 30 and November 26, suicides occurred among enlisted sailors from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, Norfolk, Virginia.
Navy Capt. Jay Young, the commanding officers of MARMC said in a statement that he could confirm the deaths of four sailors who were assigned to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Local police and the U.S. Navy are investigating the circumstances of these incidents.
Young stated, “We mourn our loss of shipmates and friends.”
Each death is being investigated individually using standard Navy procedures. The official stated that there is also a command investigation into whether the deaths were caused by common circumstances. The Navy has been able to bring in trauma and mental counselors, and it has held several mandatory suicide prevention and awareness briefings.
“One suicide is not enough,” and MARMC leadership will take a proactive approach in order to support the team, improve mental health, and manage stress among its Sailors. Young stated that we remain engaged with our Sailors, their families and to ensure their health, well-being and foster a culture of trust that encourages Sailors asking for help.
There are approximately 3,000 people employed at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, of which 1,500 are on active duty. Around 25% of active duty personnel are assigned to the center on restricted duties because they are unable or unable to serve aboard vessels. The Navy declined to discuss the status of the four sailors who died, citing privacy.
Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary, has placed suicide prevention in the spotlight and has encouraged the Defense Department to do more for mental health. He has stated many times that mental health is as important as health.
According to the Pentagon’s annual report on suicide in the military, 519 service personnel died last year. This was down from 582 suicides in 2020. Despite the one-year decrease, the overall suicide rate has steadily increased over the past ten years.
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton demanded the Navy investigate the sailors command and called it “a serious failure on many levels.”
“Young people who sign up for military service accept some risk. Moulton, who was a Marine Corps veteran and currently sits on the House Armed Services Committee, stated that suicide on active duty should not be considered one of these risks.
Moulton was instrumental in passing the Brandon Act last year. It is a law that makes mental health services more available to service members. Brandon Caserta, who committed suicide in 2018, is the law’s name. He left behind notes that mentioned bullying and hazing from his unit members.
The deaths at Norfolk are similar to a series of similar events at Newport News’ nearby shipyard. Three sailors aboard the USS George Washington committed suicide in a week this spring.
In the past 12 months, seven people died on the crew of the nuclear powered aircraft carrier. At least four of them were from suicide. The Navy is still looking into whether suicides were related and what common factors may have caused them.