Reservist

ISS4 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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There is ALWAYS a better way Policymakers, researchers consider approaches to reducing Reserve suicides Story by Chief John D. Miller, Fifth Coast Guard District Photos courtesy ME2 Natalie Crane, PSU 313 The last drill weekend that she saw Petty Officer 1st Class Jose Christopher Trujillo-Daza alive, Petty Officer 2nd Class Natalie Crane ate lunch with her coxswain and section leader. "He was sitting on the boat, and we were eating, and he said, 'This right here, being on a boat with buddies? This makes it all worth it,'" Crane remembered. A week later, Trujillo-Daza was dead; a victim of suicide. Crane and her fellow reservists at Port Security Unit 313 in Everett, Wash., were stunned. What had happened in the intervening days? What else could they have done to prevent it? In the last five years, ten Coast Guard reservists have died by suicide, an average of two a year. That percentage is lower than that of other military branches and on par with the civilian suicide rate. It's also small enough that statisticians and health professionals have difficulty pinpointing patterns that would provide Trujillo-Daza's shipmates reliable answers or contexts. Yet even one death has a disproportionate enough impact on a unit—not to mention a challenge to the Coast Guard's commitment to its people—that policymakers at Coast Guard Headquarters and civilian researchers continue to study how to improve suicide prevention programs, including for reservists. "He knew that the resources were there," said Petty Officer 1st Class David Pierce, Trujillo-Daza's friend and shipmate at PSU 313, referring to the Coast Guard-sponsored mental health programs. "He just felt that [suicide] was his only way out." Beyond the chain of command or chaplains, the current Coast Guard Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is CG SUPRT. Advertised through flyers, general mandated training and on the service's website it is available via a toll-free phone number 24 hours a day and seven days a week (including to reservists on- or off-duty). CG SUPRT is designed "to assist Coast Guard employees with a wide range of mental health and other life concerns, such as depression, relationship issues and work stress," according to the website. When members call CG SUPRT, "they'll have an opportunity to speak with a licensed clinician with experience in these topics BM1 Jose Christopher Trujillo-Daza relaxes on the deck of a 32-foot transportable port security boat with shipmates from PSU 313 in e verett, Wash. Photo courtesy of M e 2 Crane. 40 RESERVIST � Issue 4 • 2017

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