USS Theodore Roosevelt has lost 2 sailors to suicide since December
Stars and Stripes February 17, 2023
The crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Wednesday mourned the death of a crewmate lost to suicide, just weeks after another sailor on the aircraft carrier also took his own life, according to social media posts.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Carroll, 22, a boatswain’s mate from Alabama, died Jan. 18, according to an obituary published by Sunset Memorial Park in Midland City, Ala. The Kitsap County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the cause of death as suicide, according to a Jan. 27 report by Military.com.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacob Slocum, an electrician’s mate from Illinois, died Dec. 5, according to his obituary published by Chapel Hill Gardens West in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. The medical examiner ruled Slocum’s death a suicide, according to Military.com.
The two deaths aboard the Theodore Roosevelt bring to at least 10 the number of sailors who have taken their own lives since April across the 335,000-strong Navy, according to published reports. Three suicides that month among the crew of the carrier USS George Washington, docked in Virginia, raised questions in Congress and sparked a Pentagon investigation.
Carroll and Slocum’s crewmates mourned them in separate ceremonies aboard the carrier at its homeport, Kitsap Naval Base, Wash.
Sailors gathered Wednesday to celebrate Carroll’s “life and service,” according to a post Friday on the ship’s official Facebook page.
“Christopher’s presence and friendship will be fondly remembered and sorely missed by his friends and shipmates for as long as this ship sails the seas,” the post states. “He will always be a Rough Rider, whose service and selflessness will inspire the crew of the Big Stick as it daily guards and defends our Nation.”
The crew had gathered Jan. 24 to remember Slocum, according to a Jan. 25 Facebook post.
“Jacob’s service, presence and life will not be forgotten aboard The Big Stick,” the post states. “His legacy will be honored daily by his shipmates as they continue to work toward strengthening the freedom of our nation.”
A spokesman for the carrier, Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Anderson, said both deaths are being investigated, Military.com reported.
The Facebook accounts of their shipboard ceremonies attracted dozens of expressions of condolence and prayers to the sailors and their families.
However, some comments were critical of the Navy’s handling of mental health and suicide.
“We have multiple shipmates that have passed away due to taking their own life!” commenter Ayshia Allen wrote on the Jan. 25 Facebook post. “When can y’all take mental health seriously?”
Another commenter, Kimberly Jane McInerney, asked how many kids would “‘slip through the cracks’ before the real issues are addressed?”
The Theodore Roosevelt is undergoing repairs and maintenance at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The George Washington is undergoing a longer, mid-life overhaul at the Newport News Shipyard in Virginia.
A fourth sailor assigned to the George Washington died Jan. 23 by apparent suicide, according to a Feb. 1 Tribune News Service wire report.
Four sailors assigned to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center in Norfolk, Va., died by suicide between Oct. 30 and Nov. 26.