Pentagon Inspector General to assess Navy’s suicide prevention efforts

by Tommy Grant

Editor’s note: This report contains discussion of suicide. Troops, veterans and family members experiencing suicidal thoughts can call the 24-hour Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255, texting 838255 or visiting VeteransCrisisLine.net.

The Pentagon’s independent watchdog is looking into the Navy’s efforts to prevent and respond to suicides, according to a project announcement posted Tuesday.

The review follows an internal Navy audit spurred by two clusters of suicides within the same command during 2022.

The project began in February, according to the announcement, and will assess whether the “Navy effectively took actions to prevent and respond to incidents of deaths by suicide, suicide attempts, and suicidal ideation among members of the Navy assigned to sea duty or shore duty,” according to the announcement.

It will include site visits to Norfolk Naval Air Station, Virginia; Naval Base San Diego, California; Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton, Washington; and Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The Navy’s suicide rate in 2022, the most recent year for which complete data is available, was 20.6-per-100,000, lower than the Army’s 29-per-100,000 and the Marine Corps’ 35-per-100,000, and just slightly above the Air Force’s 19.7-per-100,000.

Those numbers include at least three suicide deaths by sailors assigned to the carrier George Washington in spring 2022, as well as four suicides at Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center later that year

A year ago, the Naval Audit Service released a report of its findings that the 21st Century Sailor Office, the Navy’s hub for quality-of-life policy, was not tracking reports of suicidal ideations and suicide attempts alongside completed suicides, hampering the service’s ability to create strategies and policy.

It also found that some of the selected commands reviewed couldn’t confirm whether all of their sailors received required annual suicide prevention training, or didn’t have required crisis response plans in place.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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