NCCOSC, 21st Century Sailor Office Stand up Against Suicide

Story Number: NNS150310-12Release Date: 3/10/2015 12:48:00 PM
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By Jenny Collins, Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- NCCOSC staff stepped up to support Advanced Suicide Prevention training conducted by Navy Region Southwest's 21st Century Sailor office at Naval Base San Diego's Murphy Canyon Chapel, Feb. 26.

Rob Gerardi, retired master chief hospital corpsman and NCCOSC education and program development department head, discussed operational stress control and resilience with a group of active-duty Navy personnel serving as suicide prevention coordinators at their respective commands across Navy Region Southwest.

"We wanted to give our suicide prevention coordinators more than just training on how to manage their program," said Cmdr. Eric R. Johnson, director of Navy Region Southwest's 21st Century Sailor office. "We're also giving them intervention skills so they can go back to their respective commands, intervene if necessary, and give high quality suicide awareness training."

Explaining that resilience is the bedrock of suicide prevention, Gerardi taught training attendees how to recognize signs of combat and operational stress by using the Stress Continuum model, which identifies an individual as ready, reacting, injured, or ill (green, yellow, orange, or red zones, respectively) based on stress symptoms they exhibit. Gerardi also taught attendees how to provide quick and effective intervention for a stressed shipmate through the use of Combat and Operational Stress First Aid (COSFA), and the roles and responsibilities of a leader, as explained in the Five Core Leader Functions.

"Suicide prevention, to me, is when you step in when someone is having suicidal thoughts or has exhibited intent to harm themselves. But another important approach to support suicide prevention efforts is teaching service members how to build and maintain their resilience, by using tools such as optimism, flexible thinking, and positive coping," said Gerardi. "Practicing and implementing these resilience tools is a key element of the overall suicide prevention effort."

The attendees took notice.

"My biggest takeaway from this training is how important it is to get this training to the fleet," said Lt. Cmdr. John Van Dyke, deputy command chaplain for Naval Support Activity Monterey, California. "Building awareness and getting more people to advocate for this type of training is really important."

The training provided by NCCOSC and Navy Region Southwest's 21st Century Sailor office is vital for today's service members, Johnson added.

"In this operational environment, our Sailors continue to perform at [high levels] with less and less resources," said Johnson. "[Resilience] is important in order to help them adapt to changes easily...and perform as a 21st century Sailor."

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647, or seek out a friend, coworker, or chaplain. You can also explore all of the resources available at
For more news from Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control, visit

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