(NewsNation) — The co-founders of the Brandon Caserta Foundation, which works to end suicide in the military, said a sailor on the USS George Washington recently attempted to take his life.
The man is now receiving treatment, according to the foundation. NewsNation also spoke on the phone with the sailor’s mother, who confirmed the attempt and said her son is undergoing treatment. NewsNation agreed not to identify the sailor’s mother for privacy reasons. The Navy told NewsNation on Thursday it hadn’t received any reports of an attempted suicide.
The aircraft carrier, which is docked and undergoing major maintenance, is connected with a series of deaths — four of them suicides — according to the Navy, with three sailors taking their lives within a week last month. Reports suggest conditions on the ship were uninhabitable and that sailors were subjected to conditions including constant noise, sleep problems and a lack of electricity. “How many people need to die before you do something?” asked Patrick Caserta of the Caserta Foundation.
Patrick and Teri Caserta know that pain. Their son Brandon, also a sailor, died by suicide in 2018. They’ve successfully lobbied Congress to pass The Brandon Act, which expands mental health services in the military. “It is Brandon’s legacy and I do believe that it can work if it’s allowed to work,” Teri Caserta said. “It has to be implemented correctly, and it has to be pushed down through the ranks.
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin acknowledged a problem with the way sailors are housed on ships undergoing repair, not unlike the George Washington. “Certainly there’s a problem there,” he said. “We’ve got to understand what the problem is a bit more and then we have to figure out what to do to ensure we don’t have these kinds of problems in the future.”
The Navy is undertaking two separate investigations into the suicides and the conditions and culture on the aircraft carrier. In the last month, it has allowed nearly 260 of about 400 sailors the option to relocate from the ship to temporary housing.
If you or someone you know is thinking of harming themself, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free support at 1-800-273-8255. Starting on July 16, 2022, U.S. residents can also be connected to the Lifeline by dialing 988. For more about risk factors and warning signs, visit the organization’s official website.