Official websites use .mil
Secure .mil websites use HTTPS
The Stress Continuum Model
When a unit members dies, it is important for the entire command and the community to work together to provide reassurance and a sense of security for those experiencing the loss. Support to help Sailors cope with feelings of loss and grief is important at this critical time. Common reactions experienced by persons following a sudden death include:
In some cases, surviving members may experience distress associated with the shock and guilt and the belief that something could have been done to prevent the death. This most commonly occurs following accidental deaths and suicides.
The Casualty Assistance Call Officer (CACO), who is designated by the command to assist the surviving family, may at times encounter a range of reactions from family members who have just lost a loved one, including suicidal behaviors. The distressed family member may not be eligible for care at a local Military Treatment Facility or may be located in a remote area where emergency medical care is not readily available. Under these circumstances, the CACO should:
There is no simple way to deal with the death of a unit member. Leaders should enlist help from a variety of sources such as chaplains, medical, mental health, Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) and others.
In the case of a suicide, the grief experienced by people close to the victim can be especially difficult and complex. The general goals of post-suicide intervention are to help friends and colleagues understand and begin the grieving process, to help maintain mission readiness, full functioning and morale; and to identify/refer individuals who are at increased risk for distress.
Commanding Officers should consider the following actions:
Sailors often look to the Commanding Officer and Command Master Chief for answers to why the unit member died. Survivors are especially sensitive to comments or suggestions that imply responsibility. It is important for leaders to avoid passing judgment, providing simplistic explanations of the death or suicide, or publicly placing blame. With this in mind, it is important to keep rumors from spreading by keeping people informed while protecting privacy.
Contact the Fleet and Family Support Center, chaplain, or mental health for assistance with locating survivor support groups in the community.
TAPS is a national network of peer support for military survivors. They provide referrals to grief counseling options. More information is available at www.taps.org. Referral options include:
BACK TO TOP
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
7700 Arlington Blvd. Ste. 5113 Falls Church, VA 22042-5113
This is an official U.S. Navy website
This is a Department of Defense (DoD) Internet computer system.
General Navy Medical Inquiries (to Bureau of Medicine and Surgery): email@example.com