Seafarer suicide statistics spotlighted as coronavirus curtails crew changes

Jul 09 2020


Recent reports of seafarers stranded on cruise ships taking their own lives have highlighted the dearth of reliable information about suicides at sea.

Maritime welfare charities – many funded by Seafarers UK – continually strive to improve the mental health of seafarers on merchant vessels, by providing helpful sources of information and advice and in some cases pastoral support and someone to talk through their problems.

 

But with most crew changes prevented due to coronavirus restrictions, thousands of seafarers are being compelled to work beyond their contract end dates and denied access ashore at ports on trade routes worldwide.

 

As a result, many seafarers’ medical conditions are going untreated, ship visits by port chaplains and welfare workers are severely restricted, and access to free communication with families and friends is typically infrequent.

 

One consequence of this crisis has been an increase in the number of seafarer suicides, including on ‘mothballed’ cruise ships. But there appears to be no reliable source of information about the scale of this tragedy.

 

Seafarers UK’s Chief Executive Officer Catherine Spencer said: ‘I have been astonished to discover that there is no single source of data on how many seafarers have taken their own lives during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, alarmingly, it appears no one has been or is keeping an accurate global record of seafarer suicides.’

 

‘This may be because suicides do not result in claims handled by the P&I Clubs that provide insurance for most merchant ship owners. But that picture also is unclear, as some suicides at sea may be being recorded erroneously as fatal accidents. Unless we know the true extent of the problem, how can we target our support for seafarers and those working on the frontline to support seafarers’ welfare?’

 

Continued Catherine Spencer: ‘I urge the International Labour Organization to consider what steps need to be taken, with regard to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, to ensure that all seafarer suicides are accurately identified, recorded and shared with organisations like Seafarers UK that fund a wide range of interventions and welfare services which support the wellbeing of seafarers and their families.’

 



Related News

Latest Seafarers Happiness Index report reveals seafarer welfare crisis at tipping point

(Jul 30 2020)

The Mission to Seafarers calls for immediate action to ease plight of seafarers.



Isle of Man Ship Registry becomes first flag state to launch seafarer welfare app

(Jul 16 2020)

One of the world’s leading flag states, the Isle of Man Ship Registry, is set to launch the first ever seafarer welfare app designed by a ship registry.



More shipboard oxygen required in the event of existing or future respiratory infections

(Jul 16 2020)

Leading maritime safety specialist Survitec is highlighting the need to ensure there is sufficient medical oxygen onboard vessels in the event of crews and passengers becoming ill with a respiratory infection.



Vietnam must urgently repatriate seafarers stranded in M'sia without salary, food

(Jul 16 2020)

Twelve Vietnamese seafarers have been stranded in Malaysian waters and living in inhumane conditions since they started work aboard the MV Viet Tin 01 in mid-March this year.



Tanker’s all crew to be changed after some found positive

(Jul 16 2020)

Product tanker SAN SAN H has been stranded in Campana Argentina, as of July 8, 2020, after one of the crew tested positive.



June 2020

low carbon strategy - digital tanker market models - battery explosions - better catering onboard - challenges of ballast installations