Organizations using Suicide Prevention Month to raise awareness, inspire action in veteran community
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and it’s a different kind of pandemic that hits the veteran community especially hard.
Organizations in Kentucky are using this month to spread awareness and to take action.
“I’ve personally served with a soldier who lost this battle,” a Kentucky National Guard member said in a video shared on the group’s Facebook page.
“I’ve had folks that I knew that have taken their own lives,” Veteran’s Club Founder and CEO Jeremy Harrell said.
Harrell said the average number of veterans who commit suicide every day fluctuates between 17 and 23, but the number of those who think about it is far greater.
“Just last night we had a guy who reached out and said, ‘I just can’t do it anymore’,” Harrell said. “Luckily, we were able to talk to him and kind of get him through that, but what if we can’t, what if we miss somebody.”
The Kentucky National Guard is using this Suicide Prevention Month to raise awareness through a social media challenge, #22at2.
“We’re out here to do 22 push-ups in honor of the 22 veterans every day that commit suicide,” members of the Kentucky National Guard said in a video shared on its Facebook page.
“The reason why they don’t pull the trigger is that they had someone who reached out to them, who showed them love, who showed them respect and didn’t judge them, but then helped them walk through the hard times,” Harrell said.
So, whether in person or virtual, Harrell hopes this Suicide Prevention Month doesn’t stop at awareness but instead inspires action.
“I think it needs to be a state-addressed issue, I think we need to put more resources toward veterans,” Harrell said. “I know that we talk about the tragedy of those who lose their lives due to COVID-19 and it is very tragic, but we also have to spend some time with the pandemic of veteran suicide as well, this is an ongoing pandemic that needs just as much attention.”
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