Navy confirms 3 suicide deaths of USS George H.W. Bush sailors in same week

Navy confirms 3 suicide deaths of USS George H.W. Bush sailors in same week
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Three U.S. Navy sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush have died by suicide in the last week, the service confirmed.

The deaths are the “third, fourth, and fifth crew member suicides in the last two years,” the ship’s commanding officer Capt. Sean Bailey wrote in a Facebook announcement on Monday.

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“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. “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.”

Local and federal authorities are now investigating the three suicide deaths — two of which happened on the same day — as well as an incident when another sailor from the carrier took his own life in July, the Navy Times reported.

Navy officials insist that though the sailors all served on the same carrier, “the sailors did not serve in the same departments, and there does not appear to be a connection between their deaths,” Naval Air Forces Atlantic spokeswoman Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg told the Navy Times in a statement.

She added that no enlisted or commissioned leaders have been relieved or reassigned following the suicides, and none of the deaths occurred on the carrier.

Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Robert John Bartulewicz III, who killed himself on July 16, was the first suicide of a Bush crew member since 2017.

That was followed by the Sept. 14 death of Chief Electronics Technician (Nuclear) James Harold Shelton, and the Sept. 19 deaths of Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Vincent Michael Forline and Airman Ethan Thomas Lee Stuart.

September is the Navy’s Suicide Awareness Month, and Bailey in his statement urged “All Hands to engage by bringing forward your suggestions and ideas for how we can work together to prevent another suicide.”

He added that “chaplains, psychologists, counselors, and leadership are engaged and available on board at all times to provide support and counseling to those grieving.”

People experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.