Three U.S. Navy sailors from the USS George Washington aircraft craft carrier have been found dead in less than a week’s time span the Navy said. Currently the USS George Washington aircraft carrier is being overhauled at Newport News, VA at Newport News Shipbuilding. According to the navy’s chief medical examiner on Wednesday Communications Electrician third class Natasha Huffman and Retail Services Specialist third class Mika’l Sharp both died of suicide. The specific cause of death and identity of the third sailor has not been released yet by authorities. The Navy says that they do not believe the deaths are connected and are all under investigation separately by the Naval Criminal Investigation Services and local authorities.
The local authorities investigating these deaths or the Hampton Police Department. Sergeant RC Williams said, “It is our standard practice to withhold details on death investigations involving a suicide,” when he was asked about the deaths.
Mika’l Sharp’s body was found April 9th. Natasha huffman’s body was found April 10th. Both were found at off base locations in Hampton VA. Sharp had enlisted in June of 2020 and Huffman enlisted in July of 2018 according to naval records. The third sailor who has not been identified as of yet was found Friday April 15th on the carrier itself.
“The Sailor was treated by the medical team on board before being transported to Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News where the service member passed away,” Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Michael Maus said in an email to the Navy Times. “The incident is under investigation and the command continues to cooperate with (the Naval Criminal Investigative Service).”
Mika’l Sharp joined the military two years ago following the footsteps of his great grandfather. He was married just last year and had plans to buy a house and start a family with his wife. “He was the life of the party,” his mother Natalie Jefferson said. “I never would have thought it would hit so close to home like this.” Jefferson, who had been living with her son Sharp, in Norfolk VA, didn’t believe she had a reason to worry about her son’s mental health. His mother said that he enjoyed dancing, playing pool, or playing with his dog. she also said that he loved being in the navy and learned a lot from his time in the naval services. She urged military members to seek counseling, whether it was friends, family, shipmates, or other military resources.
Pentagon records show that 19 out of every 100,000 sailors committed suicide in 2020. Compared to other military personnel the highest was 36 per 100,000. The Pentagon said that it did not see a statistical change in suicide rates from 2020 to 2019. They don’t believe that there is any increased risk from COVID-19. The suicide rates in 2020 is the last year that full data is available. In that year 580 military personnel died by suicide. That is an increase of 16% from 2019 when 498 military personnel died by suicide.
Major General Clement S. “So, we are working to address a range of risk factors and enhance protective factors for members of our armed forces.”
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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.