PACIFIC OCEAN – Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) are helping to raise awareness during Suicide Prevention Month while on deployment in the Western Pacific.
The Suicide Prevention Team aboard Tortuga has planned forums, events and training throughout the month in support of the Navy’s initiative to help sailors manage stress and recognize when their shipmates need help.
“During September, the goal of the Navy is to raise awareness, to foster openness and honesty, to share and provide resources and to increase prevention of suicidal situations for service members and their families,” said Lt. Adriana Townsend, chaplain aboard Tortuga and coordinator of the Suicide Prevention Team.
The training aboard Tortuga will include teaching crew members how to recognize risk factors and behaviors in others that may lead to thoughts of suicide.
Tortuga sailors will also learn how to Ask, Care, Treat (ACT) to help their shipmates. ACT is a tool that sailors can use to ask how their shipmates are depressed or thinking about suicide, let them know that someone cares and help them get treatment as soon as possible.
Members of the team joined for different reasons. Electronics Technician 2nd Class Breanna Wilson said that she joined because he wanted to help people and to learn to recognize the signs of suicidal behavior.
“Raising awareness on the ship is very important because we are always away from home and always working,” said Wilson. “Some are not able to handle the daily stresses that arise and people on the ship should know what resources are available and how to ACT when someone is suicidal.”
In 2012, there have been 42 completed suicides in the Navy. The goal of the Navy’s initiative is to reduce this number to zero by offering various resources and educating Sailors about how to help their shipmates.
“A completed or attempted suicide has a vast impact on individual members, workspaces, commands and the Navy at large,” said Townsend. “Every life is valuable and worth putting in the time and doing the hard work to have a fulfilling quality of life.”
Reducing suicides and managing stress by providing sailors with the support network, health care and skills needed to overcome adversity are part of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative to maximize each service member’s personal readiness.
Bonhomme Richard, commanded by Capt. Daniel Dusek, is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed amphibious ready group and is currently operating in the 7th Fleet Area of Operations.
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