(NewsNation) — The mother of an 18-year-old U.S. Navy sailor, who was hospitalized after attempting suicide, is speaking out Tuesday night — offering new insight into what’s going wrong on the USS George Washington.
“He (her son) would just say that the way he’s been getting treated and the conditions of the ship had got to him,” said the Navy mom, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation.
The suicide attempt is just the latest connected to the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier currently undergoing maintenance in Newport News, Virginia.
In the past year, seven service members connected to the ship have died.
Four of the deaths were confirmed or apparent suicides. In April, three bodies were discovered in less than a week.
Some sailors aboard the ship say living conditions are close to uninhabitable, with periods of no electricity or running water. Others describe constant noise and say sleep is difficult to come by.
Some say they have been relegated to menial tasks such as cooking and cleaning, rarely putting their training to use. The ship has been docked for nearly five years.
“I was very shocked. I was very blown away and then I got scared,” said the Navy mom when she learned her son had tried to take his own life.
The 18-year-old sailor is currently recovering and will go into inpatient treatment for a month.
On Tuesday, the secretary of the Navy visited the ship to talk with sailors directly. The Navy has acknowledged there is a problem and is actively investigating.
Tuesday, the Pentagon said most sailors are off the ship and that the Navy is taking conditions seriously.
In response to the recent suicide attempt, which was first reported by NewsNation, Navy officials said the ship’s command “cares for the health and safety of every sailor assigned to U.S.S. George Washington and leadership has taken unprecedented measures to ensure that all sailors receive immediate, holistic and well-rounded care.”
The sailor’s mother is concerned their voices aren’t being heard.
“Their warning signs to their superiors or to others are not being taken seriously,” she said.
If you or someone you know is thinking of self-harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free support at 800-273-8255. Starting July 16, 2022, U.S. residents can also be connected to the Lifeline by dialing 988. For more about risk factors and warning signs, visit the organization’s official website.