Navy SEAL’s Suicide Note Revealed Five Years After Incident

Five years after he shot himself in the chest to protect his brain, a Navy SEAL’s suicide note was uncovered. 

In 2019, Lt. David Metcalf committed suicide, and the Department of Defense is now analyzing his brain. In part, his note said he had gaps in memory, failing recognition,  mood swings, impulsiveness, headaches, anxiety fatigue, and paranoia. He said it was not what he used to be but what he had become.

Suicide has claimed the lives of at least twelve Navy SEALS throughout the last decade, either during their service or soon after they left. There were a number of commonalities found in the investigation of their deaths. The veterans who had passed away had an average age of 43 and had all served several deployments to war. All of the veterans have spent years studying to shoot a variety of lethal weapons, diving to great depths underwater, and mastering hand-to-hand fighting. Nearly everyone experienced sleeplessness, headaches, memory and coordination issues, melancholy, disorientation, and even wrath around the age of 40.

The brains of all eight servicemen examined by the Department of Defense showed signs of blast injury. The shock waves released by their weaponry caused the brain injury.

Twenty years of service in Afghanistan and Iraq, he had caused mental health concerns for Navy SEAL Petty Officer David Collins, who took his own life in 2014. His story was eerily similar to Metcalf’s.

Doctors gave Collins a slew of medications for his sadness, anxiety, and PTSD, but nothing worked. Tragically, he took his own life in March 2014. He wanted his brain donated so that scientists might learn more about post-traumatic stress disorder and TBIs, according to his wife, Jennifer. 

In order to study the brains of deceased soldiers for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, the Department of Defense established the Brain Tissue Repository in Bethesda, Maryland, two years earlier.

After finding a scar tissue boundary in Collins’ brain, researchers were able to replicate the finding in six out of eight Navy SEALs who committed suicide. 

Through its active participation in medical research aimed at enhancing understanding of this crucial subject, the Navy is attempting to prevent blast exposure and, by extension, brain damage.