Captain Rajesh Unni, CEO and Founder of ship manager Synergy Group, highlighted that mental health awareness should be a priority on first aid seafarer training, adding that more has to be done to understand and alleviate mental strains of life at sea, as the dangers became more apparent.
Specifically, during a day-long training session that was conducted in Mumbai, India, Captain Unni noted that 5.9% of all deaths at sea were proven suicides; Yet, when ‘suspicious’ deaths that were probably suicides were included, the percentage increased to 18.3%.
Captain Unni noted
That means almost one in five deaths at sea is a suicide which is absolutely horrific. Ashore less than 1% of deaths are suicide. This is a problem that we can’t ignore.
He continued that crewmembers onboard should be equipped with the skills to address and promote the psychological wellbeing of seafarers to make sure that no seafarer takes extreme measures due to lack of support and help.
I think an obvious first step would be making mental health training available to employees of all maritime companies. Ship operators and managers certainly can – and should – offer this training to seafarers starting with officers. It’s the least we owe the teams that serve us 24/7, 365 days of the year.
Captain Unni also commented that mental health issues onboard are dangerous and hide hazards, that’s why it is of a great importance to be addressed with the same urgency and commitment with which we address safety-related issues.