Naval Special Warfare Command hosted its first suicide prevention training for spouses of west-coast based Naval Special Warfare Sailors at the Silver Strand Training Complex in Coronado on Sept. 14.
The training was hosted by Adam Curtis, NSW Preservation of the Force and Family Director and Jeanne Lagorio, a licensed clinical social worker and NSW Force Suicide Prevention Coordinator.
The objective of the training was to raise awareness about suicides within the community and reassure spouses that they are not alone in this fight. Between 2017 and 2023, the Navy lost 452 active component sailors and 62 reserve component sailors to suicide, according to the Navy.
We provide this training to our active-duty personnel, but we know that their spouses are so often the first to notice when something is off balance.”Adam Curtis, NSW Preservation of the Force and Family Director
“We provide this training to our active-duty personnel, but we know that their spouses are so often the first to notice when something is off balance,” said Curtis. “Our aim is to equip them with knowledge of what to look for and what resources are available.”
Breaking down mental health stigma
This training serves as a tool to continue breaking down the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues.
“Our community is a revolving door,” said Lagorio. “We must continue to bridge the gap between generations when it comes to the stigma about mental health and security clearances. It is ok to reach out for help and it is non-punitive.”
The three-hour training covered a range of topics including warning signs, risk factors, lethal means, security clearances, individual protective factors, statistics, mindfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and available resources.
‘Two platoons’ worth of lives lost’
Due to the intense nature of topics discussed, “breath breaks” were incorporated to allow spouses to take a moment and breathe. “If we had this training available to us 10 years ago, it would be a game changer.” said a teary-eyed NSW spouse. “These trainings are needed, and I wish more spouses knew about the resources and tools available to them.”
Gun locks were distributed at the end of the training as part of an ongoing effort since 2019 to combat harmful behavior.
The community has distributed 2,000 gun locks so far.
Rear Adm. Keith Davids, commander, NSWC, in his message to the entire NSW enterprise, said “[Since] 2012, we’re looking at a loss of 18 active-duty members and 21 NSW veterans. We’re talking about two platoons’ worth of lives lost, and that’s a tragedy that we cannot ignore… I highly encourage everyone to know these crucial resources, whether it be for yourself or one of our teammates.”
Suicide is a national crisis
The issue of suicides is not only a problem within the military but also a national crisis. To address this, NSW is committed to providing resources to operators, combat service support, staff, and their families.
NSW has dedicated care providers such as Navy Chaplains, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers to support the force.
The community also employs internal initiatives like NSW Warrior Talk Videos, Military Art Psychotherapy, and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).
The Force Suicide Prevention Coordinator will travel to Norfolk, Virginia and offer this training to the spouses of NSW East Sailors.
Suicide prevention program ‘will evolve’
“The suicide prevention program will evolve as the community evolves,” said Lagorio. “We just have to keep working at it with new trainings such as this one.”
On Sept. 6, NSWC was recognized for its comprehensive and innovative approach to suicide prevention during the Department of Defense’s Annual Suicide Prevention Recognition ceremony hosted by the Defense Human Resources Activity.
Naval Special Warfare is the nation’s elite maritime special operations force, uniquely positioned to extend the Fleet’s reach and gain and maintain access for the Joint Force in competition and conflict.
For more news more Naval Special Warfare, visit www.nsw.navy.mil.