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What Leaders Need to Know



Per OPNAVINST 1720.4B, every command is required to maintain a robust Suicide Prevention Program, helping to equip Sailors with the knowledge, skills and resources to proactively navigate stress, support one another and respond appropriately in the event of a crisis.

The Navy Suicide Prevention branch's goal is to minimize suicide risk by enabling Sailors to thrive as a psychologically healthy, resilient and mission-effective people through knowledge, responsibility and resources.

  • Training – In line with reference (a), commanders at all levels will provide annual suicide prevention training to all members of their respective organizations and ensure family members have access to training, education, and information. Suicide prevention training conducted within the DON must be compliant with the DoD Suicide Prevention Training Competency Framework.

  • Intervention – Intervention includes proactive planning for crisis intervention, addressing the process for identification, referral, access to treatment, and follow-up procedures for personnel who are at risk of suicide.​

  • Response – Sailors experiencing a psychological health or suicidal crisis, as well as those affected by suicide including shipmates and families, will receive timely and appropriate support.

  • Reporting – Suicides and SRBs must be reported immediately to mobilize appropriate resources and inform command and Navywide suicide prevention efforts.​ Additionally, in the case of an SRB, the command must submit a referral to the SAIL Program.​

​​Commanding Officer's Responsibilities per OPNAVINST 1720.4B: 

  • Foster a command climate that supports and promotes behavioral health and overall wellness and foster unit cohesion.​
  • ​Provide support for those who seek help with personal problems. Access must be provided to prevention, counseling, and treatment programs and services that address psychological, family, and personal problems that may contribute to suicide risk.
  • Establish and maintain an effective suicide prevention program consistent with requirements of this instruction.
  • Designate an SPC in writing. Assistant SPCs can be assigned at the commanding officer's discretion, taking command size and workload of the SPC into consideration. Assistant SPCs must be designated in writing and meet the same training requirements as the SPC. SPC should receive training within 90 days of appointment. Mental health providers, chaplains, and religious program specialists will not be assigned to SPC positions.​
  • Develop a written crisis response plan and run drills, at least annually, to ensure readiness.
  • Ensure the command notifies the SPC when a Sailor exhibits an SRB and ensure timely submission of the SAIL referral.
  • As directed by reference (a), establish an agreement with installation security for the storage of personal weapons when necessary.
  • Complete DoDSER reporting requirements. Commands must make every effort to answer DoDSER questions completely to ensure DoDSER quality. “Data unavailable” or “cannot determine” responses may result in the DoDSER being returned for rework.
  • Be thoroughly familiar with policies and procedures outlined in references (b) and (d) regarding command directed mental health evaluations and healthcare provider command notification requirements.

For more information, refer to the Navy Suicide Prevention Handbook​, OPNAVINST 1720.4B or contact the Navy Suicide Prevention Program at 901-874-6613 or

Reporting Requirements for a Death by Suicide or Suicide Related Behavior 
The below information is available for offline reference by downloading and printing the Navy Suicide Prevention Handbook here




OPREP Unit SITREP (1 hour)

OPREP Navy Blue (1 hour)

Personnel Casualty Report (4 hours)

SAIL Referral
(24 hours)


Suicide Related Behavior





See below

Death by Suicide







​​​Understanding Reporting Requirements 

  • These reporting requirements apply to uniformed service members only (active and reserve components). 

  • If a suicide related behavior is classified as a suicide attempt by a medical authority, a DoDSER is required to be completed by the Military Treatment Facility that provided the assessment or Tricare referral if the assessment was conducted at a civilian facility.* 

  • Timeframes begin once the command is notified of the death or suicide related behavior. 

  • For reservists not on active duty, the reserve component command medical representative will ensure DoDSER completion for all suicide attempts.
  • ​The Personnel Casualty Report (PCR) should be submitted as soon as possible after learning of the casualty (within four hours but no longer than 12 hours). Initial submission should not be delayed due to unknown or unavailable detail.  
  • Guidance for Completing the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report (DoDSER) 

In January 2016, the DoDSER process was updated to improve data quality. For suspected suicides, commands are required to initiate a DoDSER within 30 days of receiving notification of the death. It is recommended that the SPC initiate the DoDSER. 

The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) will make official determination as to whether suicide is the manner of death. The DoDSER is to be completed and submitted no earlier than receiving this confirmation and no later than 60 days following the confirmation. The first flag officer in the chain of command can authorize an extension of up to an additional 60 days, if necessary.  This extension must be submitted to OPNAV N171. 

The following steps must be taken as part of the DoDSER reporting process for all active component and reserve component deaths by suicide: 

  • Upon AFMES’ confirmation of suicide as the manner of death, commanding officers are to establish a local Suicide Event Review Board at the command.
  • ​The board will be led by the commanding officer, executive officer or command master chief. 
  • The board will be comprised of a member of the decedent’s direct chain of command, a medical/mental health representative, an Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) representative and chaplain. 

  • If the decedent had an impending, open, or recently adjudicated Family Advocacy Program (FAP) or legal case at the time of death, FAP and legal representatives should be included as board members. 

  • It is recommended that the SPC be the recorder for the board and submit the DoDSER. 

  • The Suicide Event Review Board will complete a Suicide Event Review Board Charter and utilize the DoDSER Submission Checklist as a guide for potential resources to ensure thorough reporting. These documents will be provided by OPNAV N170B following a suspected suicide.  
  • ​SPCs will submit the Suicide Event Review Board Charter, summary of local postvention response activities, lessons learned and recommended best practices to OPNAV N170B. Submissions should be directed to  

Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life (SAIL) Reporting Process
When an SRB occurs, the SPC will submit the following information via encrypted email to mill_n17_SAIL.fct@navy.milsubject: SAIL

b) Date of Incident
c) Sailor's Last Name
d) Sailor's First Name
e) Sailor's Middle Initial
f) Sailor's Rank
g) Sailor's Work Phone
h) Sailor's Email Address
i) Sailor' personal cell number
j) Sailor's Current Location (City, State, Country)
K) For Reserve Component Sailors only, indicate status: (FTS, SELRES on orders, SELRES not on orders)
l) Base/Installation
l) Region
m) Command
n) Region
o) Commanding Officer's Name
p) Commanding Officer's Phone
q) Commanding Officer's Email​
r) Additional Information (Alt Triad's contact info, i.e., XO, CMC)

If you are unable to send an encrypted message to this mailbox, please try the following:
1. Go to
2. Enter the email of the functional account (
3. Click "Search"
4. Click " MILL"
5. Click the appropriate download link (usually: "Download Certificate(s) as vCard Outlook & Internet Explorer or Netscape 7.x Required")
6. Select Certificate
7. Click "Save"
8. Once downloaded, member can send encrypted emails to functional account

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