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Navy sailor assigned to the USS Montana dies by suicide in Virginia

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Posted at 2:52 PM, Mar 31, 2023

A sailor assigned to the USS Montana died by suicide this week, according to a spokesperson for Virginia's office of the chief medical examiner.

Electronics technician (navigation) Seaman Devon Faehnrich's cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.

Faehnrich was found unresponsive on March 27 on the pier next to the submarine by another crew member at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipyard, a Navy official said. Faehnrich was then taken to Riverside Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead.

He enlisted in the Navy in April 2021 and reported to the USS Montana at the end of March 2022.

The submarine was commissioned in June 2022, and is docked at Newport News Shipbuilding, where it's completing a planned maintenance period known as a post-shakedown availability.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is conducting an investigation into Faehnrich's death. And the Navy is offering grief counseling services and support through the chain of command and the command chaplain.

Faehnrich's death is the latest in a rash of Navy suicides. There have been at least eight other Navy suicides in Virginia over the past year.

Four sailors assigned to the USS George Washington aircraft carrier have died by suicide since last April, with three occurring in a single week, and four sailors assigned to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) in Norfolk died by suicide late last year.

A Navy investigation into the three April USS GW suicides concluded that the suicides were not connected, but did raise concerns about living conditions in a shipyard. The USS GW has been at Newport News Shipbuilding undergoing a years-long overhaul and maintenance period.

The Navy is expected to release reports on two more investigations in the coming months — one on the quality of life on the USS GW and another on whether there are any connections between the MARMC suicides.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email info@nami.org.