SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Expeditionary Strike Group THREE (ESG-3)’s Diversity Committee hosted a Waterfront Suicide Awareness Walk at Naval Base San Diego’s Bainbridge Park, Sept. 28 as part of National Suicide Awareness Month.
National Suicide Awareness Month helps promote resources and awareness around the issues of suicide prevention, how you can help others and how to talk about suicide without increasing the risk of harm.
Rear Admiral Cedric E. Pringle, commander, ESG-3, provided the attendees with an opening remark and personal thoughts on suicide prevention.
“To me, this is a very important issue,” said Pringle. “We have lost four Sailors over the time that I have been in command here at ESG-3, but this isn’t just an ESG-3 effort. This is very much a waterfront effort, something that we can control, something that we can affect.”
The Awareness Walk consists of one slow lap around the park’s track. Since January, ESG-3 has lost four Sailors due to suicide. The track is divided into four different sections. At each section, a representative stands by to inform the attendees about the lost Sailor and closing with a quote.
“We wanted to take the time out to raise awareness and shine a light on this sensitive subject that hits home for nearly half of us,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Alexis Vinson, coordinator and president of ESG-3’s Diversity Committee. “This year, [ESG-3] wanted to be a little bit more proactive in the approach of bringing awareness to suicide.
Capt. John Hakanson, force chaplain of Navy Surface Force Pacific. Hakanson was the event’s guest speaker and spoke shortly before the lap was conducted.
“We are in each other’s lives 24/7,” stated Hakanson. Suicide is something we don’t want to talk about because we don’t want it to be true and it’s really easy for us to cover it up and not show it. It is extremely important for us to look in between the cracks and the tiny things that may be irregular about that person and their situation and know that it is ok to ask.
Immediately after the lap followed a speech from Capt. Terry C. Gordon, fleet chaplain of Navy Region Southwest, provided the attendees with a closing remark.
“I was very impressed at the team that put this together,” said Gordon. “This is one of the most significant events I’ve seen as it relates to helping us and being aware of suicide. We absolutely have to do everything within our power to care for each other, and we have to ask.”
ESG-3 comprises three amphibious squadrons, eight naval support elements and 15 amphibious warships comprised of more than 15,000 active-duty and reserve Sailors and Marines. The mission of ESG-3 is to serve as the command element for Marine expeditionary-brigade level expeditionary operations as commander of an amphibious task force.
For more news from Expeditionary Strike Group 3, visit www.navy.mil/local/esg3/.