Four Navy sailors who were under the same command appear to have committed suicide in less than a month

Four Navy sailors appear to have committed suicide over the course of less than a month at the same Navy command in Norfolk, Virginia, according to a Navy official.

All were assigned to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC), which repairs and maintains military vessels. Most of the sailors were already on restricted duty status for various mental and physical reasons, the Navy official also confirmed. Their status raises the question of whether sufficient health resources were available to the sailors. NBC News first reported the suicides.

The official confirmed that 22-year-old Kody Lee Decker of Virginia was one of the sailors. According to a family obituary, Decker, who died October 29, was an electronics technician in the Navy.

His father, Robert Decker, told CBS News that he is “furious right now.” He said his son was depressed because of a toxic leader in his previous command.

“The military needs to wake up. They need to change,” said Robert Decker. He added, “I want resources for the sailors, and I want leadership.”

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Kody Lee Decker, a Navy electronics technician, died by suicide in October 2022.

Photo provided by Robert Decker, father of Kody Lee Decker


A few days later, on Nov. 5, Cameron Armstrong also died, his mother, Sharon Armstrong, confirmed. She said her son, whom she described as “very sweet” and “a kind soul,” had been in the Navy for about four years and sought mental health care from the Navy.

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Sharon Armstrong (L) with her son, Cameron Armstrong, who committed suicide in November 2022.

Photo provided by Sharon Armstrong


After the first two deaths, the Navy ordered a mental health withdrawal and called in Kayla Arestivo, the president of a nonprofit counseling service. She had a grim report for the Navy.

“I certainly had made them aware of how inundated our clinical team was with the hopelessness that happened on that order, and how many people stepped forward and said they’ve also had suicidal thoughts in the past year from being under that order,” Arestivo said in an interview.

A third apparent suicide occurred the same day mental health services ended, and a fourth occurred over the weekend.

It is the second time in a year that the navy has faced a wave of suicide deaths. It launched an investigation into three sailors on the crew of the USS Washington in April died within a week from each other. The Navy is trying to determine if there were underlying causes for crew members to commit suicide.

The living and working conditions on the ship, which is undergoing years of overhaul, are a challenge for the seamen. While located in the shipyard in Newport News, Virginia, the George Washington is essentially a construction area, where it can be cramped, hot and noisy for the crew on board. Top Navy commanders have acknowledged the difficulties faced by the carrier’s sailors. The shipyard is not far from the maintenance center where the most recent suicides took place, about 50 kilometers away.

Service members and veterans in crisis or suicidal thoughts, and those who know a service member or veteran in crisis, can call the Military Crisis Line/Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or text 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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