Coast Guard leaders respond to self-harm incidents among cadets

New London — Coast Guard Academy leaders addressed cadets on Friday and plan to provide specialized training in response to multiple reports of cadets engaging in self-harming behavior over the last month.

In a Friday morning email to faculty and staff, obtained by The Day, Capt. Greg Hall noted that, "in the past few weeks there have been several suicide ideations/attempts by cadets." Hall said Superintendent Rear Adm. James Rendon would speak with the corps Friday "to reinforce the support services that are available to all who might be struggling and also to those cadets, such as (Cadet Peer Support), who are supporting others that are struggling."

Academy Communications Director David Santos noted in an email that "the health care professionals involved are not sure if it's accurate to classify the incidents as suicide attempts."

Santos did not say how many cadets engaged in self-harming behavior. He said in such instances, the Academy "adheres to Coast Guard policy, including escorting cadets to emergency medical providers."

"Out of respect for the privacy of each cadet and in support of their treatment and recovery programs, the facts surrounding these incidents and details concerning medical treatment will not be publicly released," he said.

Santos said Commandant of Cadets Capt. Rick Wester and Senior Chaplain Ryan Rupe discussed the matter with the corps Friday, noting "many sources of assistance" available to cadets and thanking Cadet Peer Support members for their work. Rendon encouraged "anyone needing support to not hesitate to get help," Santos added.

"The well-being of the Corps of Cadets is our top priority," Santos said.

According to Santos, in the "near future, a specialist will provide specific training" to cadets on how to recognize the signs of people in crisis.

Many cadets, staff and faculty members already are specially trained to recognize troubling signs, Santos said.

"They are mindful of the fact that cadets can become overwhelmed with a variety of issues, and will not hesitate to jump in if someone needs help," he said. "They were joined by Critical Incident Stress Management team members, who were brought in to offer assistance to anyone in need."

Day Staff Writers Lindsay Boyle and Julia Bergman contributed to this report.

b.kail@theday.com

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