Sailor’s death ruled a suicide by medical examiner, 4th one at Naval Base Kitsap this year
Stars and Stripes November 28, 2023
The death of a sailor found last week in his quarters at Naval Base Kitsap was ruled a suicide Monday by the local medical examiner’s office, marking the fourth service member at the base to die by suicide this year.
The Navy said Monday that the sailor was found dead Nov. 21 and served as a machinist’s mate (auxiliary) first class assigned to the ballistic missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson. But the service has yet to confirm the death was a suicide.
“Naval Criminal Investigative Services are currently investigating the incident,” said Lt. Corey Jones, public affairs officer for Submarine Group 9 at Kitsap, which is southwest of Seattle.
The death was classified a suicide by the Kitsap County Medical Examiner, according to Jeffrey Wallis, a supervisor with the agency.
Three deaths of Navy service members earlier this year at Kitsap have been classified as suicides. More than 15,600 active-duty personnel are assigned to the base, including an aircraft carrier strike group, ballistic missile submarines, a shipyard, a fuel depot and dozens of other installations spread across 12,000 acres.
The prior suicides at the base in 2023 include an aviation boatswains mate airman in October assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, a petty officer in April with Submarine Development Squadron 5, and a sailor in January with the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
The Henry M. Jackson and Nimitz are homeported at Kitsap. The Theodore Roosevelt was at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at the base for an 18-month refurbishing, which was completed in March. The carrier then returned to its homeport at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.
An annual report on suicide in the military for 2022 by the Defense Department, which was released Oct. 26 of this year, showed suicide rates among all service members rose 3% between 2021 and 2022. The total included members of the Reserve and National Guard.
The Pentagon reported 492 service member suicides in 2022, including 331 by those on active duty.
The Marine Corps had a rate of 34.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 active-duty service members. The Army rate was 28.9, the Navy was 20.6 and the Air Force was 19.7. The Space Force reported no suicides in 2022.
The report said the military suicide rate is similar to the general U.S. population when adjusted for age and gender. Young, enlisted men make up the largest group of suicides. Firearms are the “primary method of suicide death,” according to the report.
The report is available at https://www.dspo.mil/.
The Defense Department encourages current and former service members who have thoughts of suicide to contact local mental health hotlines or go online to veteranscrisisline.net/get-help-now/chat.