Navy Works to Reduce Stigma of Discussing Suicide


Story Number: NNS100406-23Release Date: 4/6/2010 4:15:00 PM
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By Electronics Technician 2nd Class Mark A. Moore, Submarine Group Two Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) hosted a Suicide Awareness and Prevention Summit at Naval Submarine Base New London on March 30 and March 31.

The goal of the summit is to provide leadership with available resources and assistance to institutionalize fleet requirements regarding implementation and execution of suicide prevention and awareness policies.

Each year, the Navy loses Sailors to suicide. Many of these Sailors are our own shipmates, and most, if not all, of these tragedies can be prevented. The stigma that some Sailors face with seeking help for their problems can stand in the way of preventing suicide.

Relationship issues, drug abuse, financial problems, legal issues and mental health problems can increase a person's suicide risk, according to experts. Eric Hipple, former Detroit Lions quarterback and author of "Real Men Do Cry", has dedicated his life to suicide prevention after losing his 15 year-old son, Jeff, to suicide in 2000. He's now the Outreach Coordinator for the Depression Center for the University of Michigan. He spoke about his experiences during the summit.

"Ninety percent of all suicides are due to some type of untreated or undiagnosed mental illness, depression being one of those," said Hipple. "If someone suffers from depression and does not get treatment, the chance of them taking their own life is greater than someone who is treated."

So, what is the stigma of seeking help in the military? According to Marie Parker, USFF Suicide Prevention Coordinator, some Sailors fear losing respect from shipmates or vice versa. Also, some Sailors mistakenly believe that getting help will make them lose their security clearance. That, however, is a myth.

According to the Navy's suicide prevention website, "less than 2% of revoked or denied clearances are for psychological problems. In the vast majority of situations, getting counseling or treatment an indicator of the good reliability and judgment required for clearances. Failure to seek help and allowing problems to get worse and start to impact performance, conduct and finances, is more likely lead to clearance loss."

The next USFF Suicide Awareness and Prevention workshops will be held in Gulfport, Miss. on April 20 - 21, Sigonella, Italy on May 10 - 11, Naples, Italy on May 13 - 14 and Rota, Spain on May 17 - 18. The workshops are intended to provide leadership with available resources and assistance to institutionalize fleet requirements regarding implementation and execution of suicide prevention and awareness policies.

Every command is required to have a suicide prevention program. For information about suicide prevention, visit www.suicide.navy.mil.

For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.

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