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'People Need Hope': Death of US Naval Commander Comes as Suicide Rates Soar


The commander of US Naval Forces Central Command and the US 5th Fleet has been found dead in his residence in Bahrain.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson says Vice Adm. Scott Stearney was found dead Saturday.

"This is devastating news for the Stearney family, for the team at Fifth Fleet and for the entire Navy," Richardson told CNN on Saturday. "Adm. Stearney was a decorated professional and a devoted father, a devoted husband and a good friend."

Richardson says the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bahraini Ministry of Interior are investigating the death, but foul play is not suspected.

According to CNN, a US defense official says Stearney's death was the result of an apparent suicide.

The tragic news comes at a time when suicides are on the rise.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 47,000 Americans committed suicide in 2017, a 50-year record high.

And according the Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 veterans a day committed suicide in 2014.

CBN News Medical Reporter Lorie Johnson weighed in on the issue.

"Recently, I did some research and interviewing on CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and experts are realizing that military people are suffering from CTE. This is the football player disease that we used to think was caused by concussions, not so anymore," she explained. 

"We know that CTE causes terrible, terrible personality changes -- and depression and suicide and violence are among some of the main symptoms of CTE," said Johnson. "And it's really caused by blows to the head, including explosions, like IEDs."   

"And they're learning now that soldiers can get CTE from just one IED blast," she continued, "because what happens during the blast (is) your brain basically ricochets in your head, so that could be one explanation in addition to PTSD."        

Meanwhile, Christmas is just around the corner and what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, is actually the opposite for many.

In fact, holidays can be a time of increased sadness.  

"We know that holiday depression is a real issue," said Johnson. "This is something that strikes all across America and the reason is because people struggle with things during the year and they're usually exacerbated during the holidays."  

"People who have financial difficulties throughout the year, it's made worse at Christmas time because it's so much pressure to buy gifts," she explained. "People who are lonely, which is a very stressful condition, that's usually made worse at the holiday time."     

Evangelist Franklin Graham offered a message of hope to those struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

"People need hope. And hope comes from a relationship with God through His Son. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin to save us from our sins and from hopelessness," he wrote on his Facebook page.

He continued, "If you have ever thought about suicide, I want you to remember that there is always hope in Christ. God loves you and can help you through the problems you face. He has a plan for your life. Turn to Him today."

Johnson explained, "We know as Christians, the Bible talks about the world becoming a darker place the sooner we get to Christ's return, and then we also know that fewer people are professing a Christian faith. Those two things may be factors."  

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