MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- The Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPON) of the Navy visited USS Sterett (DDG 104) Oct. 22 to personally recognize three crew members for their efforts to help prevent suicide.
Three Sailors from the Sterett won the Navy's Suicide Prevention Program sponsored poster contest.
"The poster went all the way up to the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations) level. There were more than 30 entries for this contest. Every single Sailor is important and the participation in the contest tells me the deck plate level is involved," said West during a ceremony on board Sterett.
According to the most recent report posted on Navy Personnel Command's Suicide Prevention Web site, the Navy has lost 38 Sailors, including eight in the month of August alone, to suicide.
"Many of us have been affected at some point in life from the suicide of an acquaintance, a friend, a shipmate or a loved one. Preventing this avoidable tragedy is worth all efforts that we can muster," said Lt. Cmdr. Bonnie Chavez, the Navy's Behavioral Health program manager. Chavez oversees the Navy's Suicide Prevention Program which sponsored the poster contest.
The winning team's motivation was inspired by their personal experience of losing a shipmate to suicide.
"We were motivated by our loss. He was one of us - a plank owner. We stood watch with him. He was a part of our Navy family," said Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Stephen Zeller, a Sterett crew member.
Zeller, Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Charles Long and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Matthew Poling designed the winning poster titled "Warning Signs."
The winning poster will be featured in the November 2009 issue of All Hands magazine.
"The overwhelming quality and quantity of response to the poster contest and the thoughtful engagement required in design, voting and commenting on posters demonstrates how much Sailors care and really want to save lives," said Chavez.
Chavez also reminds Sailors to take immediate action if they think a person is at risk for suicide. The Navy uses the acronym "ACT" to help Sailors remember to ask, care and treat – a course of action that may save a life. Ask if someone is depressed and is thinking about suicide, let them know you care and get them treatment as soon as possible.
Sailors can find suicide prevention training materials, resources and related links at the Navy Personnel Command Web site's suicide prevention section at www.suicide.navy.mil.
For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/npc/.