It is deadly and it affects friends, family and shipmates. It knows no boundaries, as it can happen to any race, gender or creed at any given moment. It is called suicide and it has the Navy concerned.

According to the Navy Personnel Command, Suicide rates have increased 3.5% from 2010 to 2011. This is why recognition and proper training of suicide prevention is a top priority for the Navy, and the Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are trained on suicide prevention techniques.

“It is important because every member of the crew is valuable,” said Lt. Cmdr. David Rozanek, of Geneva, Neb., the assistant chaplain aboard Stennis. “Just like everyone is trained in Material Maintenance Management, everyone should be trained in suicide prevention.”

Sailors considering suicide do not often broadcast their thoughts and feelings in an open forum. It is rarely talked about. Thoughts of suicide resonate in hushed tones behind closed doors and dwells privately within individuals. But our Sailors are fighting back, by seeking help and learning how to help others.

Throughout the Navy, the Ask, Care, Treat method, or ACT, is the standard training given to Sailors to address potential suicide situations. This annual training is mandatory for all hands.

The ACT method consists of three steps. First, Sailors are instructed to ask the potential suicide victim if they are thinking about committing suicide or self-harm. The second step is to show concern towards the problems that he or she may be facing. Lastly, Sailors should immediately seek professional care for the concerned individual .

“Using the ACT method you can save more people than you can ever imagine,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/AW) Aida Santell, of Geneva, N.Y., Stennis’ psychiatric technician. “The potential within yourself and others is what makes everything so powerful.”

The ACT method is not the only suicide prevention training available to Sailors. Stennis’ Medical Department and the Command Religious Ministries Department (CRMD) offer classes to help Sailors better handle stress. The Medical Department offers anger management and stress management training, while CRMD offers character resiliency classes along with ‘acquired suicide intervention skills training, or ASIST.

“The resources available onboard are more than adequate,” said Rozanek. “I believe the systems we have in place to recognize and treat potential suicide victims are very good.”

With more than one third of Sailors aboard Stennis on their second deployment in two years, suicide prevention is more than just an issue for chaplains and the Medical Department to deal with. Sailors may be battling stressors of a demanding work environment or the isolation that comes with being away from home during the holiday season, so every Sailor is asked to do their part to actively engage in suicide prevention.

“People need to be ever vigilant, always looking out for their teammates,” said Rozanek. “Sailors should be thinking about it as part of their daily routine.”

For additional training and resources visit the Medical Department, CRMD, Navy Knowledge Online, Fleet and FamilySupportCenter, Navy Marine Corps Relief Society or Military One Source.


Two Sailors engage in conversation on one of the starboard sponsons aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Fred M. Gray IV