"My heart is broken," the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush said after the apparently unrelated suicides of three crew members in the space of less than a week. In a Facebook post, Capt. Sean Bailey said the deaths of Chief Electronics Technician Nuclear James Shelton, Airman Ethan Stuart, and Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Vincent Forline were the third, fourth, and fifth suicides among crew members in the last two years, ABC reports. The Navy says Forline was found dead on Sept. 14. Shelton and Stuart died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds in separate off-base incidents on Sept. 19. None of the deaths occurred on the ship, which has a crew of more than 5,000 and has been in dry dock for maintenance in Norfolk, Va., since earlier this year.
Bailey asked for suggestions on how the crew can work to prevent another suicide. He said there is "never any stigma or repercussion from seeking help," though current and former crew members tell the New York Times that those who seek mental health help are often sidelined. The Times notes that the suicide rate in the Navy has been climbing in recent years. It was once below the civilian suicide rate but now stands at around 20 per 100,000 —above the civilian rate of 14 per 100,000, but still below the Army or Marine Corps. (Read more US military stories.)