NORFOLK, VA. (NNS) -- According to a recent report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 40 percent over the past two decades. The Navy is not immune to this trend as last year Navy Personnel Command reported 58 active duty deaths by suicide. That number is concerning to the Fleet and something with which all commands are grappling with.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) in Norfolk, Virginia, held its first suicide prevention workshop, LivingWorks SafeTalk, Jan. 30, in an effort to drive the conversation about suicide to the deck plates and educate shipmates of warning signs.
“The curriculum is to create an alertness to suicide,” said Chief Fire Controlman, Joseph Rollins of Bradenton, Fla. “This allows Sailors in day-to-day discussions with each other to hear what we call invitations, when somebody who might have suicidal ideations is inviting you to ask them without actually saying ‘I feel like committing suicide.’ The point is to create awareness and recognition to then talk with them and connect them to somebody who can help.”
Twenty-eight MARMC Sailors and civilians attended the workshop organized by the command’s suicide prevention coordination team. It included face-to-face interaction, audiovisual presentations and skills practices. The team will have several more workshops over the next few months.
“This workshop is for anybody and everybody,” said Rollins. “It is not limited to your paygrade, your ethics or your morals. Its 100 percent for everybody – civilian, military – it doesn’t matter. What matters is as many people as possible are able to walk away knowing what to look for and are comfortable having those conversations that could eventually save a life.”
Chief Operations Specialist Jason Sherman of Virginia Beach said this is the first step of a plan to develop a self-sustaining, far-reaching team of SafeTalk warriors with the training and confidence to intervene when their shipmate or coworker is in trouble.
“Our vision is to take our initial trainers and start building and growing throughout MARMC so that inside every division and every work center, no matter where you turn, there will be a teammate alert to the possibility of suicide within this command,” he said.
MARMC is home to more than 3,000 Sailors and civilian employees located in multiple facilities throughout Hampton Roads. This dynamic makes it important that even junior Sailors are able to address this issue among each other.
MARMC provides surface ship maintenance, management and oversight of private sector maintenance and fleet technical assistance to ships in the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as provides support to the 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.
For more news from Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nssa/.