The U.S. Navy recently confirmed that four sailors at Naval Station Norfolk have died by suicide within the last several weeks. They have been identified as: Petty Officer Kody Lee Decker, Petty Officer Deonte Antwoine Autry, Petty Officer Janelle Nichole Holder, and Seaman Cameron Elan Armstrong.
“The circumstances surrounding these separate incidents are currently under investigation by local police departments and the U.S. Navy,” -Navy spokesperson to local news WAVY 10.
State and local lawmakers have criticized the Department of Defense for being slow to implement legislation to expand and improve mental health resources for active duty service members. Such legislation includes the Brandon Act, named for petty officer third class Brandon Caserta who also died by suicide at Naval Station Norfolk in 2018.
Troubles at Naval Station Norfolk
According to the Department of Defense’s annual report on suicide in the military, the Navy’s active duty component has one of the lowest suicide rates. Yet in the last three years, at least ten other sailors have died by suicide while stationed in the Hampton Roads area.
The local military community can find hope in the growing number of foundations attempting to fill the gap in mental health resources, including PB Abbate and Trails of Purpose. The Cohen Veterans Network’s local clinic in Virginia Beach has offered services to active duty service members and military family members since 2019.
For service members and veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a service member or veteran in crisis, the Military Crisis Line/Veterans Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Dial 988 and Press 1 or text 838255 or seek help via the online chat.