NORFOLK, Va. — Four sailors based in Norfolk have died from apparent suicides in the last month, the U.S. Navy confirmed Friday.
A spokesperson for the Navy said the sailors were assigned to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC). Local police departments and the Navy are working together to investigate their deaths.
A spokesperson added that the incidents are separate and are considered to be apparent suicides. The timeline of the investigation is unknown.
“This is not specific to this command, we’re talking about people. Will you ever eliminate suicide in the Navy? No. Because humans struggle with existential crisis, depression, and anxiety. I don’t believe it’s the Navy’s job to fix everybody’s mental health, but it is their job to provide the ample resources," said Kayla Arestivo.
Arestivo, a licensed counselor out of Chesapeake who runs the non-profit Trails of Purpose, said she was invited to Naval Station Norfolk this November to participate in a Suicide Prevention Stand-Down session.
At the time of her visit, she said two of the apparent suicides had already happened.
"I had people come to me while I was still in the building, and tell me, 'I’ve felt the same way' alluding to suicidal ideations," she said.
Arestivo added she doesn't believe the problem is isolated to the MARMC, but that mental health challenges persist everywhere, across all branches of the military.
"I believe the Navy can do a better job at recognizing people are in a place of hopelessness," she said.
The Navy didn't share the names of the sailors who died or what their roles were.
"We mourn the loss of our shipmates and friends," a Navy spokesperson wrote in a statement. "Our thoughts and our deepest condolences are with these sailors’ families, loved ones, and coworkers during this extremely difficult time."
The spokesperson said MARMC's leadership, chaplains, psychologists, and counselors are helping to support and counsel anyone who needs help.
"We remain fully engaged with our sailors and their families to ensure their health and well-being, and to ensure a climate of trust that encourages sailors to ask for help," the spokesperson said.