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NEWS | Aug. 6, 2019

CTF-69 Sailor helps Gloucester Police prevent suicide

By Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Drew Verbis, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

Lt. Christopher Holmes, from Bend, Oregon, assigned to commander, Task Force (CTF) 69, assisted Gloucester Neighborhood Policing Team in the prevention of a suicide attempt in Gloucester, United Kingdom, July 7, 2019.

Holmes was on leave when he recognized a man struggling with suicidal ideations.

“I thought I spotted a skateboarder hanging out around the rails of the building,” said Holmes. “After closer focus, I realized something was wrong; it was an older gentlemen in distress and I believed I needed to do something. My father-in law went to the police station for help as I ran up the stairs to provide support.”

Holmes approached the older gentleman and began intervention.

“I calmly approached the man and identified myself as an officer in the United States Navy; I asked him if I could listen to his story and this allowed us to engage in meaningful conversation. He agreed and introduced himself as Paul. I continued to engage Paul with support until the Gloucester Police inspector arrived.”

The policemen who responded to a concern for welfare call expressed their appreciation to Holmes who through his interaction was able to introduce the Gloucester Police Inspector to the suicidal man.

“He engaged the male with casual conversation and through his calm and supportive manner, quickly established a good rapport with the male, thereby reducing the risk,” said Rich Smith, Gloucester Police Inspector 53 and hostage negotiator. “As a result of the contribution of Christopher to pave the way, I was able to quickly bring the matter to a safe resolution.”

The man was safely assisted from the location by Smith who began support of the issues that led him to consider ending his own life.

“This experience re-enforces my core values and beliefs,” said Holmes. “I have personal experience with suicide in my family and in particular, the submarine community takes the topic of suicide very seriously. The annual suicide prevention training provided by the Navy is critical in developing resilient Sailors who can provide time critical support to those with destructive behaviors. Act now to build rapport with your shipmates and show that you genuinely care. You never know when it can save a life.”

The Gloucester Police thanked Holmes for his valiant action.

“I was grateful to be able to thank Christopher in person afterwards,” said Smith.  “I asked for Christopher to pass on the contact details for his supervising officer as I did not want our gratitude to go un-noticed. I can only say that Christopher clearly understands and demonstrates all the key principles and even more, humanity, for which he can be proud of.”

CTF-69 is responsible for planning and coordinating area submarine and anti-submarine warfare operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.