EVERETT, Wash. - Sailors assigned to the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Ford (FFG 54) organized and participated in a suicide awareness run on Naval Station Everett's multipurpose track and field Sept. 20.
The 15 Sailors who participated in the event ran a cumulative 32 miles, one mile for each suicide in the Navy this year.
"It is a problem ... If we lose one Sailor, that's one Sailor too many," said Lt. James Steele, operations officer aboard USS Ford, who participated in and helped organize the run. "Every person matters in the Navy."
The event was designed to raise awareness about the issue of suicide in the Navy in order to help Sailors affected by depression, operational stress and other suicide risk factors.
"We're trying to open up the window for general discussion, so if people do have issues, they can come forward so we can get them help," said Steele. "No one wants to make that phone call back and say, 'under our watch, your son or daughter killed themselves'."
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/FMF) Michael Arroyo, who participated in and helped organize the run, said that prevention of suicide is an important topic to the Navy because protecting Sailors is vital to the Navy's overall mission.
"The Navy has made it one of their top priorities," said Arroyo. "I think it's important that we keep it going and that the Sailors know that this is important to the Navy, that they get the help that they need."
September is national suicide awareness month, and throughout the month events like the suicide awareness run are happening all around the Navy in order to raise awareness on this important subject.
"I think there's a lack of awareness to what's available to Sailors," said Arroyo. "It's important that we understand that there are resources, and this is happening every day in our Navy."
The Navy provides a wide variety of resources pertaining to suicide prevention, including a 24/7 telephone help-line, websites on suicide prevention and operational stress management, and an online newsletter. Navy chaplains, medical personnel, and
Fleet and Family Services are other resources that Sailors can utilize to get help when needed.