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The Navy is trying to get its arms around the high rate of suicide with a new manual for commanders.

The recently released Mental Health Playbook is designed to help commanders open a dialog with sailors. Dr. David Rudd, director of the Rudd Institute for Veteran and Military Suicide Prevention in Memphis, said the services are slow to change. 

“Any culture that's highly bureaucratic, not very responsive creates remarkable stress on the people that work in it. And so I think that that is at least a step in the right direction,” Rudd said.

Commanders are encouraged to reduce the stigma surrounding seeking help for mental health issues and look for changes in behavior among sailors.The manual also asks commanders to look at leadership issues that could impact the mental health of those under their command.

The manual comes out after the Department of Defense released the results of a year-long look into how to the military can better cope with suicide. 

Though the numbers have leveled off recently, the suicide risk among troops has been above the national average for two decades. Last year, four sailors serving on the Norfolk-based USS George Washington died by suicide last year, along with another four sailors assigned to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center at Naval Station Norfolk.

For those in crisis, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline an be reached by dialing 988.