JULY 27, 2017, MEDITERRANEAN SEA (NNS) – There is no acceptable number of suicides. Because each life is immeasurably valuable the Navy continues to provide help to struggling Sailors and fights to get the number of shipmates who take their life down to zero.
However, one of the greatest challenges in getting help for someone is identifying they need help in the first place. People can be good at making their issues, and it can be hard to spot the warning signs. Sadly, Yeoman 1st Class Kaila Spradlin was confronted with this reality first hand.
“On October 26, 2015, my life changed forever,” said Spradlin. “I remember every detail about that day. Most days it replays in my head over and over again, like it just happened yesterday.”
Spradlin’s father had been the command master chief at Mid-Atlantic Norfolk for two months and had just returned from a 10-day vacation in Europe. By all visible accounts, he was fine.
“We had just talked on Facetime the night before,” said Spradlin. “He told me about how excited he was to finally have me stationed in Norfolk with him for the first time in my career. He even sent me an email just hours before it happened, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.”
Spradlin was on her way home when she received a call from one of her master chiefs asking to come back to work.
“That’s when they broke the news to me,” said Spradlin. “My dad had died by suicide in our home. I didn’t see the signs. Maybe it was because I didn’t live with him, but I talked to him every day.”
Spradlin, who was in the process of switching commands, found comfort from her chain of command and resources she never even
“After I checked on board, I needed an outlet to help me move past this and not carry it around like a burden,” said Spradlin. “I decided to join the Suicide Prevention team, which I now run.”
Working with the Suicide Prevention team, she educates Sailors on how to spot the warning signs. She also stresses the importance of de-stigmatizing the issue of suicide. Being afraid to talk about suicide can further isolate those struggling with thoughts about taking their lives.
Additionally, having faced the tragedy of suicide first hand, Spradlin wants others to know there is no shame in asking for help; in fact, the opposite is true. There is an abundance of resources available to them, and she lets Sailors know their request for help will be met with care and support.
“No matter your rank or position, Sailors need to know that it can happen to anyone at any time,” said Spradlin. “I don’t want anyone to go through what my family and I have gone through. Be the change. Speak openly about suicide and mental health, and get rid of the stigma.”
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jennifer M. Kirkman, USS George H.W. Bush Public Affairs