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3 aircraft carrier sailors commit suicide in one week

The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) departs Cartagena, Spain. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/U.S. Navy)
September 24, 2019

Three U.S. Navy sailors assigned to the USS George H.W. Bush committed suicide last week.

The aircraft carrier’s commanding officer, Capt. Sean Bailey, confirmed the suicides in a statement on Monday.

“It is with a heavy heart that I can confirm the loss of three Sailors last week in separate, unrelated incidents from apparent suicide. My heart is broken,” Bailey wrote.

“These deaths mark the third, fourth, and fifth crew member suicides in the last two years. Now is the time to come together as a crew and as a family to grieve, to support each other, and to care for those in need,” he added.

The Navy is investigating the suicides, which did not occur on the carrier itself, and does not appear to be related as the sailors were assigned to different areas of the ship, according to Navy Times.

The crew members were identified as Chief Electronics Technician Nuclear James Shelton and Airman Ethan Stuart, who were both found dead on Sept. 19, and Aviation Ordnanceman First Class Vincent Forline.

Suicide has been a steady epidemic in all branches of the military, but leaders are putting forth a greater effort to listen to service members, holding stand down days, and calling on them to come forward with possible solutions.

As of Sept. 5, 46 active duty Navy service members had committed suicide so far in 2019, USNI News reported.

“We need All Hands to engage by bringing forward your suggestions and ideas for how we can work together to prevent another suicide. I want to reiterate that there is never any stigma or repercussion from seeking help,” Bailey urged in his statement.

Bailey also outlined the resources available on the carrier, reminding crew members to look out for one another and provide a community of support.

“This is the time when we need to come together as a crew and as a family to support each other and care for those in need,” Bailey wrote.

The USS George H.W. Bush is currently docked at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia where it is undergoing repairs as part of a 28-month project.