Recently I received news of a battle buddy from my basic training unit in 2014 who committed suicide. He was a very nice and friendly young man and helped me with alleviating the stress I was suffering during the basic training process. He was there to talk to me and be a friend.
When I left basic training, I, unfortunately, neglected to find his social media accounts to keep up with him. I found it difficult to track down some people from my unit so I would typically add them on social media if their names popped up in my suggestions list on Facebook or Instagram. I regret not being able to track him down because I honestly could have helped him in some way and prevented this tragedy.
Unfortunately, this is not even scratching the surface of the real issue. The real issue is the fact that, on average, 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Sometimes there is underlying depression or problems in their personal lives such as finances, relationships, or mistakes made in the civilian world. Sometimes the pain is too much for them to bear on their own, so they conclude that taking their lives are the only option.
Here's some news. It's not.
Suicide is never EVER the right option. It should never be an option at all. Suicide is a permanent escape from a temporary problem. Suicide is an act that damages or destroys families, friends, coworkers, or battle buddies. Suicide causes depression, sadness, anger, and sometimes even more suicide. Suicide can be avoided.
I feel responsible for the loss of my battle buddy. I do. All too often we get caught up in our own personal lives and neglect those who are struggling in their own worlds.
We forget to check on one another, we forget to actually buddy check each other and make sure everything is ok. We only care about ourselves most times. We should focus on everybody in our units, our social circles, regardless of rank or past issues. We need to be there for one another. We need to be a team, one of cohesiveness and strength.
Which brings me to the 22 challenge. 22 stands for the number of veterans committing suicide daily. 22 also stands for the 22 days of the challenge in which the challengee performs 22 push-ups daily and posts the act on social media to raise awareness of the issue and challenge someone new every day of the challenge.
Suicide is preventable. We should not have to lose those we value because we do not care about them and their problems. You are never given more problems than you can deal with and you are never alone. We should not have to lose anybody at all to suicide. EVER.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE STRUGGLING WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND/OR TENDENCIES, REACH OUT IMMEDIATELY. NO ONE SHOULD GO THROUGH THIS ALONE. SUICIDE IS SERIOUS.
National Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255 - available 24/7