A new policy to get guns out of the hands of suicidal personnel has been forwarded by the Navy to reduce suicides among its sailors, Military.com reports.
The idea is that if commanders suspect a serious level of suicidal ideations or behavior, they now have the authority to request that sailor to give up any firearms for a temporary period of time, although the Navy emphasized that the request will not be forced. At any time, the sailor is free to decline.
This latest move comes as a result of a study of suicides in the military, which looked at deaths between the years of 2010-12. Researchers discovered that suicides were highest in combat zones and lowest in Europe where soldiers had less access to weapons. In 2012 and 2013, firearms were involved in half of all Navy suicides.
Access was thought to be a significant factor in the differing suicide rates between Europe and the U.S. The recommendation arrived on the scene quickly because the Navy, like other services, has listed suicide reduction as a major national priority.
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“Warning signs that may indicate suicide risk include expressing thoughts of hurting oneself; developing plans and acquiring means to take lethal action; giving away possessions; engaging in uncharacteristic destructive behavior such as substance abuse or violence…and/or expressing feelings of hopelessness, purposelessness or feeling like a burden to others,” a statement from the Navy said.
Guidance from the Navy arrived on November 18, and is one method out of a series of strategies designed to bring down the escalating suicide rate.
“Reducing access to lethal means has been proven to save lives,” said Capt. Mike D. Smith, director, Navy Suicide Prevention Branch. “These voluntary measures are intended to help Sailors avoid taking such irreversible actions to end their lives, and provide the opportunity for intervention and care.”
Supposing a sailor forfeits his weapon, the Navy commander is in charge of ensuring that it is safeguarded and ready to be returned to the sailor upon his request. If the sailor is reluctant to hand over their firearm, the sailor has the option of dismantling it and giving over crucial parts necessary for its operation.
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