Parents of decorated Navy SEAL speak out about his suicide

Robert Guzzo Jr. fatally shot himself last Nov.

SAN DIEGO - The parents of a Navy SEAL and San Diegan are hoping to help others avoid the same fate as their son, who committed suicide late last year.

Robert Guzzo Jr. was a star athlete turned elite Navy SEAL, and then the man with a zest for life took his own life at the age of 33.

"It's like I can't think of anything else but Rob," said Robert Guzzo Sr.

His son joined the Navy SEALs in 2003, fueled by the emotions of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Guzzo Jr. was deployed to Iraq with SEAL Team 5 for six months. When he came back to San Diego, his mother noticed he seemed distant. One night, he talked of the horrors of war and started crying.

"She told him it'd be OK and he looked at her and said it would never be OK," said Guzzo Sr., choking back tears.

Next, the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder began to appear, including mood changes and night tremors.

The parents said their son was afraid to go to the Navy for fear of losing his job. With the help of his parents, he eventually saw a private therapist.

Guzzo Jr. left the Navy SEALs in 2008 and went back to school.

However, last November, on Veterans Day after a night of remembering with two Navy corpsman back from Afghanistan, Guzzo Jr. shot and killed himself in his San Diego apartment.

His story has made national headlines, and he is one of the faces of a growing problem.

"He did so much for his country, and not to be able to feel good enough to go and get the help that he justly deserves ... it hurts," said Guzzo Sr.

Last year, according to the Associated Press, there were a record number of suicides in the military at 349 -- compared to 301 the year before.

Meanwhile, there were 295 troops killed in Afghanistan in all of 2012.

Guzzo Sr. hopes his son's death will inspire others to seek help.

"If I'm able to reach out and help one person and keep one person from going down the same road Rob did, it would be all worth it," he said.

Guzzo's parents said their son was told by superiors that a PTSD diagnosis could lead to his security clearance being taken away.

The Navy maintains that service members who seek treatment will not face negative consequences.

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