|Suicide is a major killer of seafarers. Because of long contracts, isolation and separation from family and loved ones, many seafarers fall prey to depression and hopelessness.This is a wake-up call.
It was a shock to see it on my social media feed; the limp, lifeless body of a seafarer, his orange overalls stark against the white side of the ship he’d been working on before he hanged himself.
I don’t know what that seafarer was facing in his life that made him feel there was no way out. But I do know this:
Suicide is a major killer of seafarers. This is a wake-up call.
Nearly six per cent of deaths at sea are attributable to suicide. And the number rises dramatically if suspicious cases of probable suicides – seafarers who go missing at sea – are taken into account.*
Seafarers tell us they can find long contracts at sea, thousands of miles away from their families and friends, incredibly isolating and challenging.
We rely on these men and women every day. Seafarers make huge sacrifices to keep food on our table and clothes on our back, and too many of them are dying from suicide.
Join me in saying: Not on my watch.
Our chaplains reach out to 1,000 seafarers every day in ports around the world.
They know just how hard life at sea can be for these men and women as they leave their loved ones for months at a time – and how difficult they can find it to talk about depression.
They are trained to look for the signs that a seafarer is suffering and how to help them when they are in crisis.
Sailors’ Society also offers seafarers and cadets access to our award-winning Wellness at Sea programme and app.
The course, which is available in class or online, helps seafarers understand the pressures they face in their work and personal lives and how to manage their physical and mental health.
We launched this programme because we never want another seafarer to feel so hopeless he no longer wants to live.
Will you join me in saying: Not on my watch?
Source: Iversen RT; The Mental Health of Seafarers, International Maritime Health. 2012